Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Best of the Web 2015!

I didn't do one of these last year, either because I wasn't sure who to feature, or I didn't have the spare time to put it all together. Although it won't show, this post is the result of multiple hours of work (I've been at it for at least 5 hours).

Here's a link to the Best of the Web 2013:

I've found that a lot of the blogs that I follow have been much less active this year, or have become largely inactive. Some of these were favourites, like Brick City Love, who hasn't had a new post in over a year and a half. Others who had been previously featured are still active, but haven't updated very often (less than once a month). This is either because most of the renovations are done, or they simply don't have the time to post anymore. Others, like A Country Farmhouse (now under the name "In The Fields") are still active, but they have only been sharing a few occasional progress photos.

That said, you will see at least 3 returning favourites. In no particular order, the blogs featured here largely showcase the best and newest home renovation/restoration blogs that I've been following. I hope you will take the time to go have a look at them, and let them know I sent you!

Best of the Web 2015!

Manhattan Nest

Manhattan Nest started off a few years back with Daniel and his partner Max. They purchased a large 1800s house in need of some serious renovations. In the past year or so, however, the couple parted ways, and the projects are now being tackled entirely by Daniel. I think it's fair to say that he has his work cut out for him, but that doesn't seem to have slowed his progress much. He's very passionate about proper restoration work, and he shares my love of beautiful old buildings, historic details, and he also has an eye for style. I may not share his love of midcentury modern, but all of his restorations so far have been done in a beautiful and sensitive manner, and for this he should be commended. Some of the projects tackled so far include the kitchen (restored/repainted cabinets, subway tile, vintage stove and light fixtures), the laundry room, upstairs office, the dining room, living room, the immense roof including rebuilding the built-in gutters, painting the shed, adding fencing, etc... If all this wasn't enough, Daniel also purchased a condemned house down the street, which he is restoring and either plans to sell or rent. He has also taken on a third large project, which is a cottage he is helping rebuild/renovate/redesign for clients/friends of his.

Old Town Home

Old Town Home continues to be my favourite blog. Since I last gave them a shout-out, they have purchased a second home as a cottage get-away near the water. It is an early 1900s Foursquare similar to mine, but with a completely different layout. They have started many projects on this second home, while also continuing to work on their house in Alexandria. The new place hasn't entirely been without its problems, as last winter there was a problem with the heating and all the pipes in the house froze while Alex and Wendy were away. This setback meant replacing a lot of the pipes, and repairing water damage. The master bathroom in Alexandria is well on the way to being finished, and at the cottage, all the hardwood floors were just recently refinished, so I expect we will be seeing a lot of wonderful new projects this year!

Little Green Notebook

The Little Green Notebook is a blog that I've been following for a while. Jenny, who runs the blog is an interior designer, and she is also quite crafty. Several of her DIY projects are drool-worthy. One of the newest ones she posted that really drew my eye was her cérusé oak secretary desk. Another one of her simple DIY projects that I absolutely loved was her Roman Blinds with the ribbon edging. Aside from DIY projects, she also features great thrift store finds, painting and renovation tips, and gift ideas. This lady is not afraid of bold colours and accessories either.

Brooklyn Limestone

Brooklyn Limestone is another returning favourite. The photography is always fantastic, and Stefanie knows how to decorate for the holidays like no other! The Halloween and Christmas decor are always impressive. If you've never checked out her blog, she, her husband, and their daughter live in a wonderful New York Limestone townhouse with fabulous old mouldings, inlaid hardwood floors, and nice tall windows. Although their renovations are pretty much done, the blog is still regularly updated. Whether it's recipes, decorating ideas, or small DIY projects, there's always something new to see.

Big Old Houses

John Foreman is a wonderful old fellow who somehow manages to plan elaborate and thorough personal guided tours of some of the most grand and opulent homes you will ever see. No rooms are left unexplored, and the posts are almost always accompanied by historical information about the homes and their past owners. This is definitely the kind of blog you want to check out if you're the type of person (like me) who enjoys getting a peek into other people's homes, enjoy old/antique interiors, or are searching for historic ideas and inspiration for your own projects (such as original kitchens, bathrooms, and butler's pantries).

The Dusty Victorian

The Dusty Victorian had previously only received an honourable mention, but her blog has continued to be regularly updated, and work on the wonderful old house continues with vigour! Just recently the entire front porch went through an extensive restoration, which included replacing rotten boards, scraping paint, and painstakingly repainting all the gingerbread trim in multiple colours. Anyes also creates an annual Countess dress and head piece using flowers and foliage. Occasionally there are also versions made in paper or other materials, and they are always fascinating and beautiful!

Victoria Elizabeth Barnes

Lastly, we have Victoria's blog. Oh, how to describe her blog without simply calling her a delightful crazy person?! Seriously. With titles like: "Auctions– because you can never have too many giant, antique, fancy pieces of junk", how can you not love her? She has a knack for scoring enormous "giant fancy things" much to the dismay of her poor husband Paul, who is usually the one left to figure out how to get these unwieldy purchases home. I believe she has at least a dozen pieces of furniture (or 8 foot tall antique mirrors) that need at least 2-3 people to lift/move them. She is also hilarious! Despite her love of huge ornate furniture and gold, the house is beautifully decorated. It doesn't look like "grandma's house". You definitely need to go see her blog. Go. Go now!

Lastly, I have an honourable mention for Old House Dreams, which continues to be a wonderful source of inspiration.

I would love to hear about any new and interesting blogs that I may not have heard about.


  1. Wow JC, I'm so honoured! I'm in wonderful company and will certainly check out my fellow 'A list' bloggers more in dept.
    Sending you my best wishes for the holiday season and looking forward to dropping in to your lovely foursquare in the new year. Thank you so much, you've made my day.

    1. It's the last I could do. All that work on the veranda and windows is worth sharing!


  3. These are awesome! I've bookmarked most of them and can tell already that I'll enjoy checking them out-- reading backwards, of course.
    My blog is
    I debated about listing it here because I post so sporadically. (Right now I'm waiting for a contractor to return to finish a project we started during the summer. *sigh*) But I've learned so much about renovation from online sources that I figure something I posted might actually help someone else. :-D
    Happy New Year! Please keep up the beautiful work and blog-posts.

    1. Hey, thanks for the comment! I popped over to your blog and had a quick look. I was going to post a comment on your Sun Room (Sun Porch) but I couldn't figure out how. I clicked "0 Notes" and it didn't seem to help. I think this is the first time I see a blog through Tumblr.

      The room looks great, and I love that blue. I also love how that tile turned out. I think a lot of people would have just ripped it out rather than spend a few hours cleaning it and sealing it. I'll have to add you to my reading list, and go through the blog.

    2. Holy shit! I just came across your front door project, and I recognize it! You posted this a while back either on Old House Web, or Wavy Glass! Ha!

  4. Ha ha, yes! It was Wavy Glass. I learned so much from that site, and from There's something so reassuring about seeing a step-by-step, and it gives me confidence to tackle something new.

  5. A blog that you or your readers may enjoy: Gear Acres

  6. Great blogs! Lots of great ideas to help with inspiration. I love all the upholstery work you did for your client friend,also. Sorry for your loss.

    1. Thanks. If you have any particular interest in the upholstery, I update my company's blog periodically, and there are around 100 before and after projects posted there: