Prepping for E-Design–by Marilena

This is so fun! I get to be the client now… Where do I start? Humm, think, think, think…

Step 1: Your inspiration!

I’m going to use Pintrest because that seems to be the easiest one to share and collaborate. Disclaimer here: I’m not that much of a pintrest-er.  Carissa is awesome at it, she can find anything there, and I usually go to her, ask her to start pinning for me and then I can follow up because the boards get semi-populated. Well, most of you don’t have Carissa at a text message away (neither do I some days, but she’s gotten so much better at responding to my texts right away… she rocks!), So you can make do with whatever media you are comfortable. Houzz is a good and popular one. You can go old school and make up a file (go check Nate Berkus paper files at Target #idigress) with magazine clippings. You can do an e-version of that, saving on a folder on your computer. This is what I do, to be honest with you, I take screen shots on my phone from Instagrams that I love and I file under F… for fabulous!

So, Pinterest… Let’s do this! I need a glass of wine. Pause.

If you want to see what I came up with follow us there http://www.pinterest.com/fabdesignfile/ms-bedroom


Step 2: Your physical space

Next order of business… un-fun measurements. Yes it’s not fun, but, yes it’s necessary. The more we know about your room, the more precise our recommendations will be. So grab your tape measure (one day I still need to tell you about how C bullied me into getting a big girl measuring tape … it’s a funny story, remind me later!). What and how to measure, you ask? Make a quick sketch on a piece of paper; make sure to approximate any windows, doors, recesses etc. Include ceiling heights, window clearances and sizes. Grrrr… I dislike that part very much, so I usually recruit my husband to do it for me and trick him into thinking he has a say help and include him in the process.

Here what our bedroom sketch looks like:

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Pictures are important; take as many as you can. Details are crucial. Remember we will not be physically in that room with you, so you need to give us a realistic ‘virtual’ tour of your room. Don’t worry about making it neat or anything, we love bad before shots so the after will have that much more impact (have you ever noticed how those weight loss before/after shots the person looks so sad and depressed before and all done up, smiley and tanned on the after? Nice trick!). But seriously, take pictures that represent the current state of what we have to work with. Try to capture shots at different times because the lighting changes during the day. Maybe even a video if you wish (so easy now with our phones, right?)




Step 3: the eDesign questionnaire

Okay one more final step - - - and another very important one. You go to our website www.fabdesignfile.com and under eDesign you fill out our design questionnaire. This is how we get to know you and the specifics for the room. This is where details are important, what furniture to keep, what would you be willing to refinish. What would offend grandma if you got rid of.

Ok, pause to fill out mine, maybe refill my glass of wine – maybe not, don’t wanna be tipsy for this part. I’ll do a downward dog to get some blood rushing to my head, I’ll be right back.

After inspiration, this is what my questionnaire looks like:

Marilena Soares

What room are you interested in designing?
Master Bedroom

Who uses the room? (adults, kids, pets?)
2 adults

What are your goals for the room?
Grown up room!!! Get rid of the hand me downs and "quick fixes". I want a room that is relaxing, classy, chic and fresh.

What do you like/dislike about the room?
I dislike the odd position of windows, they need to be openable, yet I need a dark room for sleep.
Dislike that it's so cluttered, the beige/brown tones

What existing items will stay in the room?
Bed, night stands

Is there anything you would like to add to the room?
A foot bench, headboard, all new lighting including chandelier, LED reading lighting, fabulous bedside lighting (not ugly LED)

What is the biggest design challenge in the room?
The odd window on top!

What is your budget for the room? (An approximation is fine.)

Describe the design style that you would like to see in the room.
Could go for more traditional look (crystals, wallpaper) but would like to keep it contemporary and classy. Accent colour would be nice. Thinking emeral green and gold, but would be open to other colour (s)

What colours do you love/hate?
Orange, pink, brown and all it's friends are out. Would like to make it in cooling tones (not a sad room!) but serene would be nice!

What are your favourite furniture/decor stores?
Home sense, Ikea,

Anything else you would like to tell us about the project...
Would be open to refinish the bedside tables in any recommended colour and would like to add a stone (or glass) to the top so it won't get water spots and damage (18.5x26)

Now the ball is on Carissa’s court! Let’s see what she can come up with!


#e-DesignChallenge and some more #FabulousBS

#thisismarilena… and #thisiscarissa!!!

M:  This week we’re starting a fun (maybe even fun-ny!) experiment! 

C:  We’re taking on two fabulous (but very bossy and high-maintenance) clients… any guesses who?  … It’s ourselves!

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M: We have officially launched eDesign on our website and set up a little protocol to facilitate something that we have been doing right from the start for clients from all over --- the world! 

C:  Yes… we’ve had actual clients as far away as Brazil!  But the main reason we wanted to ramp up our e-design business, was to provide a budget friendly option for all of our clients, even those who live close by.  We’ve had requests from several out of town clients within driving distance… but you know how SK is… the driving takes up half the day, and the expense of that really adds up.  Which is totally uncool from the client’s perspective.

M: Electronic design sounds so un-fun… e-Design sounds better.  What it is is having our design ideas delivered to you through the magic cyberspace gods, quickly and economically. We must admit that you do miss out on the fun of shopping with us, as well as our hilarious jokes (maybe not so much that one…).

C:  … and the awesome faces we pull if we don’t agree with each other… 

M:  … and the cute texts we send with pictures of things we love for you that we find while shopping around.  But in turn, you still get our concept… essentially, it’s your own ‘Fabulous Design File’ delivered by email instead of in person!  And thanks to all of the technology at our disposal, you still get a lot of interaction with us.  Maybe we can even crack a joke on skype!

PicMonkey Collage

C:  But enough on that.  Back to our challenge…  In order to give you a full behind-the-scenes tour of our e-design process, we are going to design one room for each other solely through eDesign.  We’ll share everything here from the initial survey’s we fill out, to the pinterest inspiration boards, to the ‘client interaction’ to the final product!

M:  We decided that neither of us would make very good traditional design clients, and think eDesign will fit our personalities.  We are very open to ideas, but are independent when it comes to final decisions and implementation.  Plus, both of us have a never ending wish list of home improvements, where to begin?  Here are the parameters for our game:

-eDesign only: there will not be any shopping around at actual stores (it isn’t as much fun shopping alone anyway.)  All sources are to be available online.

-Minimal consultation with each other (duh, it’s eDesign.)  Other than each other’s Pintrest boards, or Houzz ideabooks, we don’t really get to pick the “client’s” brain during the process.

-Since we still get to be friends after the challenge is over… we agree not to have our feelings hurt if the other one doesn’t take all (or any!) of the suggested ideas.

C:  Now the fun begins! I will e-design Marilena’s master bedroom.

M:  And Carissa chose her dining room for me to tackle.  The next step will be for each of us fill out the eDesign questionnaire and start a Pintrest board that we can link to.

If you are interested in working with us either in person, or through e-design, please visit our website for more details!


Vitamix DIY and Green Juice Recipe – by Marilena

After years of trying to convince my husband of the real need of having a $500 blender, and after I accidently fried our old one trying to make homemade vegan Nutella, it was time to finally get a Vitamix. If you don’t know what it is, google it, it will blow up your mind!  It’s like this super powerful blender that will basically powder rocks (I kid you not, they actually had a demo at Costco that they did it…).

After a long shopping process to get the perfect one – long story for another post – I realized that my beautiful, state of art, un-returnable new toy was, in fact white. Blaaarh… it totally clashed with my whole kitchen and all its other stainless steel countertop friends (ie Kitchen Aid mixer, George Forman grill.) 


For a minute (well, for a day) I considered redoing my whole kitchen, as in new white shiny cabinets, quartz counters and subway tile backsplash.  Well, that’s not happening for the next little while, so I had to make do with what I had. But I still wondered what I could do to blend my new device in (pun intended).

So I thought of spray paint!  I’ve had a successful experience with metal spray paint before, and Carissa totally enabled me, as she usually does. I rolled up my sleeves and went for it.

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I was totally concerned that it would turn out ogre looking, so going slowly was key.


And, voila, it looks like it always belonged here doesn’t it?

I admit that the faceplate shouldn’t be white, but that part is where you touch all the time to turn the knobs and I was afraid it wasn’t going to wear very well. I’m totally happy with how it turned out.

I’m not going to write a step by step guide here because it was pretty simple. I’ll just give you a few tips if you’re into refinishing your kitchen stuff (I’ve seen hardware, glassware, pottery and even big appliances like fridges turn out well):

1) cover control panels and logos with painter’s tape, or remove them if it’s easy;

2) use several thin coats, like the first one is basically a dust, and allow time for the sheen to develop. The finish will brighten as it dries and the water evaporates, leaving behind the metal flakes and

3) Be patient and allow a day for it to set before handling your newly painted object – learned that one the hard way and to a fourth coat of spray I had to resort.


Ok, now that you have your matching Vitamix, here’s my go to green-smoothie recipe (kid approved):

2 handfuls of baby spinach (I freeze them washed and ready to go)

1-2 leaves of Kale 2 pineapple slices (I often use canned ones, give me a break)

½ apple with core

1-2 tbsp of honey

2 tbsp of flax

½ cup of water ½ cup of ice

Let the Vitamix gods do their thing and chug down the amezeness! What is your favourite juice recipe?

Posted by Marilena


A Fabulous Before/After

We all love before and after posts, right?  I have a good one for you today!  I’m not even going to build suspense with a bunch of writing and the reveal photo at the end.  I’m so excited about this result that I’m just going to hit you with it right up front!  Here we go:

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We were working with a small, dark bathroom.  The main goal was to lighten and brighten the room, plus add some much needed storage.  Here is a look at our initial plan:


Here are some of the highlights:

To brighten the space, a sealed light was installed above the tub.  What a difference!  If you have the option to do this… do it!  All of a sudden this dark room is full of light!  The walls are painted a soft grey, and white subway tile is installed all the way to the ceiling in the shower area, and half way up the other two walls.  A band of glass tile wraps all the way around the room to add some sparkle and colour.


The vanity was an all-in-one unit purchased at Home Depot.  It is small enough to fit in a standard space, but provides functional storage with the three drawers. 

IMPORTANT DETAIL ALERT!!!  Check out the floor!!!  It is a 3x6 porcelain tile with a calacatta marble look, installed in our favourite herringbone pattern!   We adore this bathroom floor, and were thrilled to have a client that loved it as much as we did!


A wall niche was built into the shower and backed with the glass tile for a little extra zing.

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Another cool storage feature to point out are the picture frame medicine cabinets.  These ones were custom made by our favourite handy man, but you can order similar ones here.  And see the cute floor vent?  It’s from Costco.

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The simple shelves above the toilet provide more storage, as well as an opportunity to display pretty things!


I want to say a big thank you to our fabulous clients for letting us design, photograph and share their bathroom!

>> Posted by Carissa <<

If you would like to work with us to make your own space more fabulous, visit our website for details!


“Wallpaper is Messy” - The Story of a Guest Room Re-Design (by Marilena)

If someone tells you wallpapering is messy (specially if that said someone is your, ahem very-okay-with-messiness-business partner) believe them. They are not saying this because they are lazy, or they are secretly jealous that you will be enjoying a beautiful newly surfaced wall. They tell you this because IT IS MESSY, and, as someone kindly posted on FB: a true test to your marriage.

I did it by myself, so my marriage is fine.

Let’s backtrack a few months… 

My sister and brother-in-law were visiting from Brazil, and I thought that would be a perfect excuse to “finish” the yet-to-be-finished guest bedroom. I won’t go in detail about how that room came to be, but to make a long story short, out of the disaster of a basement flood, I decided to add colour to my oh-so-beige house and painted the guest room room Tiffany blue. When I say Tiffany blue, that is exactly what I mean, like Tiffany & Co blue box (as in Benjamin Moore Caribe Green 2042-50). I had this whole idea that it would be this beautiful room that would keep some precious jewels… sigh…


Instead it was ‘meh’, unfinished, like so


That’s when the idea of a wallpaper headboard came about. Well, the idea was actually to upholster a headboard, but I was too lazy to go look for fabric didn’t find any fabric I feel in love with, and I had this roll of wallpaper around. I went into full blown DIY mode, went to Rona - even the part with all the lumber and stuff – ha! Got myself these Styrofoam boards.  

Will wallpaper stick to it, you might ask? Don’t know, I guess we’ll see.

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After being warned yet again that it would be messy, I tackled the project.

Guess what?  IT WAS MESSY!!!  Boy, I thought about crying a few time throughout. I don’t think it actually took very long after all, but man the process was painful.  The seams are THE.WORST.EVER.  Seriously people; don’t wallpaper by yourselves, have someone around you can yell at.

Well, after all the pain and misery, this is the finished product. I must say, I don’t hate it. It is a lot better than it was before.


And it also made me want to hang some art up on the wall…


With everything else done, I was completely unhappy with the itty bitty lamps I had in there.  I went on kiiji and found The. Most. Amazing. Lamps…



This room is so me now!

I may need to convince my husband to move into the basement with me… or not (hahaha!)

>>> Posted by Marilena <<<


Behind the Scenes– #FabulousBS

As you may have noticed over the past few weeks, the blog has been transitioning from being my personal online journal to being our official business blog.  That being said, we didn’t want to eliminate the personal journal type of posts.  So we decided it would be fun to start a ‘behind the scenes’ series, which we have cleverly dubbed ‘Fabulous BS’.   

For the first instalment, I thought we’d give you a glimpse into what our day to day ‘businessing’ looks like.  I think there are some people {husbands} that are still unsure about what we really do when we’re ‘at work’. 

At first, we spent a disproportionate amount of time planning and setting up all of our branding materials.  But it was super fun, and we’re really glad we had it all sorted out before we got too busy to do it!  I should actually devote a whole post to the long story behind our business name… maybe next week.

On an average day, we often meet at our ‘office’ -the Starbucks close to M’s house.  Which I have to say was awesome… until I stopped drinking coffee!!!  Seriously.  Who does that.  Stops drinking coffee.  Not drinking coffee really sucks.  Ordering tea at Starbucks is just not the same.  But enough about that.    

We have a favourite table tucked in a corner by the window where we can spread out our computers, sketch pads etc.  


Now that we have a full list of clients we do a lot of sourcing / shopping.  We’re getting to know the local suppliers for lighting, flooring, countertops, furniture, etc… but that deserves a whole post on its own.  Lots of stories about that.  We make sure we know what kinds of treasures are at stores like Homesense too:

So far, my favourite part of the job is the client meetings where we present ‘the plan’.  A ton of client interaction happens before this point to work out likes/dislikes/wants/needs for each project.  It’s really fun to lay out all of the pieces and see how it works together!


Once plans areapproved and work starts happening, we enjoy popping in to see the fabulousness in progress!  This bathroom turned out amazing!  Before/afters coming soon!

That pretty much sums up our ‘work days’.   We have a lot of fun… it really doesn’t seem like work!  Oh yeah… we also spend way more time than we should trying to get the right angle on our instagram selfies to avoid double chins.

Check out #fabulousBS on instagram to keep up on our day to day adventures!


#saskmomfabkitchen: Week 3

When we first started ‘businessing’ we were advised to be careful about designing for friends. What if they hated it? Would they tell you?  Could this jeopardize your friendship?  So I was a bit nervous when we took on this project for one of my bestest of friends. Especially considering I knew some of the inspiration behind the project, and it was an emotional spot for both of us.

Last week Laura shared her connection with the colour purple and its significance to her life. I too, often find myself drawn to the colour purple and thinking of Laura’s little angel.  We were bump buddies, we had all the same doctors and my baby was born only 10 short weeks after Ava Faith.  Laura was there for me even then.  While I was in the delivery room, she was keeping my first born company in the waiting room.  I too needed to honor this baby girl.

Back to the project…  Thanks to Pantone making purple a designer’s favourite this year, it's a lot more popular.  However, Carissa and I weren't too sure about how we would incorporate purple into the kitchen.  It’s just not a very traditional colour for that purpose!  With help of CAD rendering we were able to visualize it, and we must admit that without the rendering, we were shooting in the dark a bit!  Check out the video to see how the rendering convinced us:


Here’s the mood board that we presented to Laura:


Along with the mood board, we brought samples of everything over to Laura’s house to look at in person, and ‘try on’ in the space.  The most interesting turn of events was the backsplash selection.  Each one of us had our own fave (I was leaning towards the 1” square mosaic and Carissa was rooting for her signature subway tile), but Laura surprised us by gravitating towards the pencil stripe!  Laura was so sure; she just grabbed it and said that’s it!!!  So cool when that happens!

The Capiz chandys were a no brainer. We held the other option up for peace of mind, but bleah, not even a contender. Capiz it was! Everyone agreed! No questions asked.

We had a little debate about the island chalkboard. Paint would be cheap and easy, but Laura, as considerate as she is, thought that it might have been too permanent of a feature. What if she got tired of it?  What if they moved and the new owners didn’t like it?  (Seriously, who thinks like that?)  My generous friend does… #lifelessons.  No problem! These wall decals are completely removable! Score!

The new faucet was also approved by all! So nice to find good deals like that!

So all of the selections are finalized, and Laura has her source list and design plan.  I have to say that this project turned out even better than I thought it would. I love the feeling of handing over a “Fabulous Design File” to a client and seeing the smile of empowerment that we helped create (#bestjobever). But I have to say that seeing that on my friend, it just made my day. Not only she was griming from ear to ear during our visit, but I also kept getting the cutest texts saying how much she loved it, how much her hubby loved, and all their plans for implementation!

This post concludes the #saskmomfabkitchen project from our end. Stay tuned for the DIY extravaganza on Saskmom.com and our shared hashtag on Instagram #saskmomfabkitchen. We will still show the final result, of course… as per Laura’s schedule, it should be concluded sometime this Spring! My hope is that by the time Lilacs are fragrantly blooming outside, we’ll come style this beautiful kitchen and have a toast in honour of an angel whose tiny footprints still find a way to touch our hearts.

>>> Posted by Marilena <<<


#saskmomfabkitchen–Week 2

A lot happened this week on the project #saskmomfabkitchen so this one will be a doozy!  Grab a coffee and read on.

The first step in our design process was to take the ideas from the initial meeting with Laura, and sort out the design priorities with the wish list and budget in mind.  We had to be very thoughtful about which kitchen finishes we could tackle that would make a huge impact with a modest price tag.  Here’s what we came up with:
- backsplash (Colourful, modern, fun)
- paint (She has a preference for purple... Can we make it work?)
- new pendants (Something with some sparkle… Maybe a chandy effect?!?)
- new faucet (Technically not on the wish list… but we thought that they needed a more stylish one!)
- dress up the island with some chalkboard (Fun for the whole family)

With started out by scouring Pintrest for inspiration:

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* See the full Pinterest board here.

With our inspiration shots in mind, we headed out on a little sourcing excursion. 

<<< Trade secret alert!  >>> If you are working with a tight budget or timeline, shop your big box home improvement stores.  The selection of stylish items at great prices might really surprise you.  We have found that the big box stores have really kicked it up a notch over the last couple of years.  Plus, you can take items home, try them out, and easily return them if they don’t work out.  Here are some of the items we scoped out for Laura:

We found several options, and since it's a relatively small area, we can splurge with some fun mosaics! But we also grabbed simple subway tiles, thinking we could maybe work in our favourite herringbone pattern?  And we couldn’t resist the penny rounds.

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On to Lighting.  We felt like we could tackle it two ways:
- Simply swap out the frosted glass shades on the current pendants to something more modern as such stainless steel.  This is the ‘cheap + cheerful’ solution.
- Bling it up with some fab (but inexpensive!) capiz shell chandeliers.  I bet you can guess what our preferred choice is!

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To the sales adds we went… and found this brushed nickel one, it goes with their kitchen hardware and has the look we were after for 100 bucks. Score!


Island chalkboard:
The simplest and cheapest solution would be chalkboard paint. However we found these decals that might just fit the bill!

Chalkboard Kitchen Wall Decal Sign Kids Drawing Board Peel and Stick Wedding (24" x 24") 1180 on Etsy, $14.99

Stay tuned for next update, when plans are unveiled to our lovely client!

>>> Posted by Marilena <<<


Project #saskmomfabkitchen

We are super excited to introduce one of our newest projects.  We are collaborating with Laura of saskmom.com, and this will be post 1 in a series that goes into all of the behind the scenes details of her kitchen makeover.  First, I need to tell you a bit of background on how this project came about.
Laura is a dear dear friend, my very first friend I made when I moved to Canada (even though she’s from Oklahoma). We met on cyberspace through her awesome blog saskmom.com.  I stalked followed her even before I moved here!  If you live in Saskatoon and have kids you probably have heard about saskmom.com… if not you must check it out! It’s fabulous!
Laura and her family live in a cute infill in a very hip neighbourhood.  As nice as their house is, it still lacks those personal touches, which has always bothered my very cool, bright eyed, colourful friend.  She intended to imprint more of her personality onto this builder grade home, however life kept getting in her way (doesn’t it always).
Part of the challenge is that her lovely husband, probably just like most husbands, is perfectly fine with things the way they are, because seriously, it looks just fine. He cannot justify spending loads of money replacing something that is good to begin with.  So… he has given us a budget of $500, and is willing to tackle any reno work himself.  Awesome!  We like challenges! That made us even more excited for this project! Here’s our blank canvas…
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Here is Laura’s wish list for her space:
- Add colour (maybe purples or greens?)
- New lighting above the island (her very tall hubby keeps bonking his head!)
- Backsplash

And just for kicks, the cute little helpers:

P.S. Laura will be blogging about her project too, so you can look for updates on her blog as well.
P.P.S. Follow along on instagram for more behind the scenes fun… #saskmomfabkitchen
Posted by Marilena


Back at it!

I can’t believe it’s been six months since our last blog post!  Ooops.  The good news is that we’ve been busy designing!  We have a bunch of client updates to share, and we have some exciting new projects in the pipeline. 

Rendering has become one of our favourite parts of the design process.  It allows us to see spaces to scale which is great for working out furniture layouts.  We can also ‘try on’ different colours and finishes to get a feel for how the room will turn out.  For today, here’s some sneak peeks at renderings from some of our recent projects. 

1.  Cozy Living Room:

Option couch plus chair2 

2.  Contemporary Family Room:

Heather Family4

3.  Contemporary Living Room:


4. Family Bathroom:


5.  Fabulous Closet:



If you would like to work with us on making your own space more fabulous, contact us through our website.  We’d love to hear from you!