Tag Archives: Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault


Work from home with style and substance

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Work from home with style and substance

Never before has the concept of creating an efficient space to work from home been so important to so many, not only for professional productivity, but for the adaptability of family life as well. With more and more people adjusting to the new normal of working remotely, the couch has quickly become a virtual seat at a conference room table and kitchens have transformed into remote classrooms. Now more than ever, there’s a desire to maximize the function of our everyday spaces and design them in a way that creates a customized sense of balance, calm, and comfort in our homes.

Design wish list

When the homeowners of this open-concept basement first reached out for design help, they had one simple request, “We want to want to be in the space!” They dreamed of transforming their under-utilized lower level into a place where they could efficiently run their business from home, put their feet up and relax at the end of the day, and gather together with their children. They struggled envisioning how their dark, windowless space could become a bright and airy retreat, brimming with beauty and practicality.

“Now more than ever, there’s a desire to maximize the function of our everyday spaces and design them in a way that creates a customized sense of balance, calm, and comfort in our homes.”

Designated zones

I was happy to be their fresh set of eyes, and my first design goal was to establish a functional layout that took all of their desired uses into consideration. A dedicated office area was at the top of their wish list, followed by a zone for lounging, and a dining table that could double as a homework station and meeting space. By working with as much of their existing furniture as possible, I simply rearranged the layout and introduced various rugs to define and visually separate each of the zones within the open space.

“Various table and floor lamps were added to achieve layers of light that washed the space with warmth, and the walls and ceiling were wrapped with a crisp white paint hue to help reflect as much light as possible.”

Layers of light

Since there was no natural light, creating a fresh and welcoming atmosphere meant introducing additional artificial lighting sources to balance the existing grid of pot lights. Various table and floor lamps were added to achieve layers of light that washed the space with warmth, and the walls and ceiling were wrapped with a crisp white paint hue to help reflect as much light as possible. A vintage hutch painted with Linen White Chalked Paint from Rustoleum was repositioned behind the desk to provide storage and display, and blends seamlessly into the wall colour, which maintains a low-contrast, subtle atmosphere.

Faux foliage

The lack of natural light also meant it wasn’t possible to introduce living foliage, so a selection of faux plants were added to bring an element of nature indoors along with warm, organic woods, and textured fabrics. To give the office a subtle sense of privacy from the rest of the space, a simple grouping of macrame plant hangers were hung from the ceiling to create a lush curtain of green, while still keeping the space open and airy.

Bring the world home

Finally, I took cues from the homeowners’ two favourite vacation spots (Jamaica and NYC) to create a customized staycation style where tropical vibes meet big-city chic. The peel-and-stick palm wall mural by Wallsauce was the perfect way to add a huge dose of WOW to the space, and a collection of one-of-a-kind Jenn Fenton cigar box purses were displayed on modern lucite floating shelves alongside a nod to the Big Apple itself.

By defining various zones within the space, incorporating fresh colours and finishes, and adding a personalized decor touch, this renovated basement has become a space that the homeowners not only WANT to be in – they never want to leave.

Photos: Larry Arnal


PALM MURAL Wallsauce SOFA, COFFEE TABLES, FLOOR LAMP Structube AREA RUGS, BAR COUNTER, SIDE TABLE, FAUX PLANTS Ikea MACRAME PLANT HANGERS, ACCESSORIES Hue La La PAINT Hutch: Linen White Chalk Paint; Walls: Zinsser Interior Eggshell, Perma White; Rust-Oleum CHAIR HomeSense

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “do it yourself.” For more information, visit huelala.com Twitter.com @leighannallaire


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That’s Entertainment! Comedy club-themed bedroom makeover

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That’s Entertainment! Comedy club-themed bedroom makeover

Photography By Larry Arnal

I’ve never considered the mandatory criteria for a well-designed home to include the trendiest sofa, perfectly tailored drapery treatments, or the most seasonally stylish accent pillows. It’s also never meant over-indulging the budget on ultra-luxe items to the point where the homeowners are afraid to peel the plastic wrap off the new lampshades, or actually put their feet up on the new footstool for fear of ruining the perfectly curated space. For me, if a home doesn’t feel good, function well, and act as an extension of the dweller’s personality, it doesn’t matter how great it looks!

Tried-and-True Design Formula

My formula for creating a well-designed home has always been quite simple:

Equal parts functionality, personalized creativity, and affordable quality.

Over the years I’ve worked with countless clients to achieve this balance, and create unique spaces that can truly be lived in and loved. BUT, nothing could have prepared me for the challenges I faced with my most recent client. He was demanding… he had little care or consideration for function… and he had a completely unrealistic budget and timeline. “He” was my eight-year-old son, Everett!

Growing Up Is Fun

Everett had requested a room redo for quite some time, and wanted to transform his “hand-me- down” nursery into a “cool-dude” space that reflected what he wants to be when he grows up… a stand-up comedian!

He specifically asked for a “Comedy Club” room, complete with a brick wall, stand mic and stool, and a desk to “sit and write his jokes.” Esthetics were much more important to him than function, and of all the items on his demanding wish list, he noted that an actual bed was a low priority!

Not Just For Laughs

Although I typically loathe designing overly “themed” rooms, I agreed to take on the challenge of creating a space that blended his humorous personality with functional design solutions (including a bed), all on a limited DIY budget.

I started by sourcing a faux-brick vinyl wallpaper that I installed myself using a DIY-friendly DIF wallpaper application kit, and for under $150, I was able to create an affordable feature wall that set the tone for the comedy club design.

When Inspiration Strikes

I then removed the original panelled closet doors and replaced them with a set of flat bi-folds that I scored at the Habitat Restore for $25, and with a quick coat of RustOleum’s spray Chalkboard paint, they were transformed into a giant creative canvas for doodles and one-liners. A perfect pairing of fun and function!


Space & Budget Friendly

Everett specifically asked for a “big kid” desk, but I didn’t want to overcrowd the room with another freestanding piece of furniture, so I created a simple DIY waterfall desk using stock lumber, with a coat of Varathane stain that fit right over his new dresser. It was a stylish and affordable way to unify two pieces of furniture in one and saved on space.

Over his desk, I crafted a “Think Bubble” message board by using a jigsaw to cut the shape out of a $4 wood handy panel. I then basecoated the board with Chalked Paint in “linen white,” outlined the shape with a black Testors paint pen, and then topcoated the surface with RustOleum’s Clear Dry Erase paint to create a cute and quirky spot for Everett to jot down his creative little quips.

Function First

The final DIY dash of function that I added to the space was a set of super affordable shelves using galvanized pipes and fittings, and pine boards cut to size at my local hardware store. After washing the pipes with a degreasing cleaner, I primed all metal surfaces with RustOleum’s “Cold Galvanized Compound” meant for galvanized metal, and then top-coated them with Universal Metallic spray paint in “flat soft iron.” The pine was stained with a rich “Kona” colour to match the desk, and the shelves became the perfect place to display fun, comedy themed accessories, including a collection of inexpensive frames from Ikea, painted with colourful Painter’s Touch spray paint. This project ended up being so simple and cost-effective that I whipped up a petite bench for under the window to match.

As challenging as my client and criteria may have been for this project, it was so rewarding to be able to create a space that not only put the FUN into functional, but also perfectly exemplified my formula for a well-designed room that my son can enjoy and be proud of.

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “DO IT YOURSELF.” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallaire


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The home gym challenge

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The home gym challenge

Photography By David Pike

Without hesitation, I always barrel towards a new year with a list of well-intended resolutions; a belief that a new chapter of fitness success and financial prosperity awaits, and optimism that a newer, better, 2.0 version of myself is just a flip of the calendar away.

And as soon as January hits, I stock my fridge with the healthiest foods, I buy myself some cute workout clothes (on sale, of course), and heck, I even sign up for a gym membership!

“New year, new you.”


But, after a few short weeks of delusional enthusiasm, reality sinks back in and suddenly, I find myself sprawled out on the couch eating stale Christmas cookies, wearing head-to-toe, crumbcovered spandex, and making every excuse in the book why I don’t have time to go to the gym.

The only thing that seems to get skinnier every year is my bank balance after dishing out hundreds of dollars for a gym membership that I end up rarely using. And when I say hundreds… last year alone I spent a grand total of $813.60 for a mere six visits to my local gym. Ouch!

That formula isn’t good for the bank balance or the waistline.


Given that I fall right in line with most Canadians who spend an average of $800 annually for a gym membership, I’m going to venture to guess that a good percentage of those same people also fall into the “rarely-use-it” category…  just like me.


So, this year, I took a different approach. I dusted the crumbs off my gym clothes, ditched my expensive gym membership and empty excuses, and decided that instead of lying to myself about going to the gym, I’d create one in my own home.

And I knew the perfect spot!

With two tween-age boys at home, they’ve completely outgrown what was once their toy-filled/joy-filled (albeit cluttered) playroom, and instead they now prefer to bury their faces in electronics for as long as we’ll let them. Subsequently, our basement playroom sat unused for about as long as I’ve been paying for that “never-use-it” gym membership, and the furniture, electronics, and toys were simply taking up space.

Fun fitness fact: From January to July 2018, there were 33,874 treadmills, 11,074 dumbbells and 20,153 elliptical listings on Kijiji, and there was definitely no shortage of options when I started my shopping search on the app.


I devised a plan to transform the playroom into a home gym by posting and selling our gently used contents on the Kijiji app, and once everything was sold, I planned to use the earnings to shop for second-hand furnishings and gym equipment to create the space.

After only a few weeks, I had sold almost everything! The futon for $80, bookshelves for $100, a gaming system and video games for $125, and the drum set for $200. With the addition of books, toys, and a chest of outgrown dress-up costumes, I made a whopping $712! Not too shabby for items that we didn’t use anymore!

With a stack of cool cash in hand, I then set out on a search to find some gym equipment and furnishings to create my dream home gym.

I found a weight bench for $30, a set of hand weights for $25, and a brand new treadmill, with the tags still on it, for $175! I looked up the model online before purchasing it second-hand, and it was listed at a local retailer for almost $800! Considering that the average Canadian saves about $825 a year by shopping in the second economy, I was feeling pretty good about my more than $600 savings on the treadmill alone!


I really wanted to maximize functionality by adding storage in the space, so I also purchased a few additional second-hand furnishings, including a set of cherry cabinets and an old metal locker, because every true gym needs a locker. The cabinets got a fresh coat of Chalked Paint in “Lake Blue” and now covertly hold all of my craft supplies. This once-rusty locker was cleaned using “The Must For Rust” gel, painted with a sleek coat of Tremclad metal paint in gloss black, and now holds all of my wrapping paper rolls and gift bags.

After investing in paint and materials to make over my thrifty finds, plus using a roll of low tack tape and leftover paint to create a cheap and cheerful DIY-geometric mural, I spent a total of $720.


Now, I’m no math-lete, but after earning $712 and spending $720, that means my total gym makeover cost $8! Eight dollars! That’s less than one per cent of what I was paying for my “never-use-it” gym membership! And I now have my home gym forever with no annual membership fee.

I’m thrilled with how my new fantastically-fit-and-frugal space turned out, but the only downside is that now I’m fresh out of excuses for not working out!

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instil confidence in others who strive to “do it yourself!” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallaire


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Cover Story: In The Zone

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Cover Story: In The Zone

The designated areas of Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault’s backyard makeover add up to countless hours of summer fun

By: Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault

Photography By: Larry Arnal

There aren’t many things more boringly Canadian than talking about the weather, but now that warmer days and balmy nights are in the forecast, I have to tell you…I’m doing cartwheels across the lawn at the thought of summer patio season!


Maybe it’s the fact that after a decade of living with a lacklustre backyard, my husband and I FINALLY invested in a complete outdoor overhaul, starting with a new low-maintenance concrete patio that has turned our once-underutilized patch of suburban grass into a multi-functional extension of our home. Early in the planning phase, we discussed how we envisioned spending time in our then-blank-canvas backyard, and determined that we wanted to include dedicated zones for lounging, dining, and cooking, as well as a fun zone for outdoor games.


For the lounging zone, we opted for a modular, maintenance free woven resin sectional that is perfect for relaxing with our feet up on lazy days but can also comfortably seat up to 10 guests when we’re entertaining. We defined this zone by introducing a substantial outdoor area rug that adds softness underfoot and is large enough to sit under the front legs of the furniture to anchor the area.


When we were shopping for the lounge set, we searched specifically for neutral beige, gray, and black finishes that would complement the existing exterior brick façade, trim, and fixtures of our home to create a cohesive look.


We then introduced touches of colour through affordable outdoor cushions and potted annuals, and I even transformed kitschy hot-pink plastic garden flamingos into a pair of flirty fowl with a quick coat of Universal spray paint in Copper Rose.


Another major consideration for our lounging zone was staying cool on sunny sweltering days. Our backyard gets direct afternoon sun, and I often felt like a sizzling strip of bacon when I sat out for more than five minutes, so I included a large free-standing market umbrella in the space that can be tilted to shield us from the rays.


For the dining zone, I had visions of creating a relaxed al fresco environment complete with comfortable seating and a self-serve beverage cart, but after searching high and low for the perfect piece, I decided to flex some DIY muscle and make my own! With less than $200 worth of materials and an afternoon of construction, I created a mobile drink station that features a mounted bottle opener, folding sides that lift for extra prep surface, and an insulated cooler inside to keep beverages cold. To finish it off and complement the dining set, I added a quick coat of Varathane Ebony Stain and an exterior clear-coat to protect it from the elements.


Like most exterior dining tables, our cast aluminum set has an umbrella in the centre, which makes it difficult to display a centrepiece, and any potted plants that I leave out on the tabletop often blown over with a gust of wind. So, I decided to craft an upcycle solution by adding a fresh coat of high-gloss black paint to an old Bundt pan from my kitchen, and then I planted a collection of fresh annuals inside it. Now, with the umbrella through the centre, I have no worries of it blowing away, and it creates the perfect focal point on the table.


Our biggest backyard splurge was creating an outdoor cooking zone! We installed a simple stacked-stone peninsula to house a built-in BBQ, and topped it with a solid slab of granite featuring a breakfast bar overhang at the back. As the saying goes, “the party always ends up in the kitchen”… and well, the “burger bar” is inevitably where everyone tends to gather now when we entertain.


And when it came to creating the “fun zone,” it didn’t take much more than a few outdoor games of ladder golf and badminton to set the tone for family activities. On weekends when the neighbourhood kids come over to play, I even whip up a quick DIY giant checkerboard using a square cardboard template, a can of YardArt spray paint, and a collection of red and blue dollar-store Frisbees to act as the game pieces, and it makes for hours of afternoon fun.

By designing our outdoors with distinctive zones in mind, we now have a multi-purpose space that not only maximizes the style and function of our once-bland backyard, but also extends our living space exponentially during the warm weather months.


OUTDOOR FURNITURE: DOT Furniture; PILLOWS, AREA RUG, DINING ACCESSORIES: Canadian Tire; BBQ: Napoleon; Universal metallic spray PAINT and YardArt PAINT: Rust-Oleum

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “DO IT YOURSELF.” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallaire


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Makeover: A Place For Everything

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Makeover: A Place For Everything

DIY expert, Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault, gets her garage in gear in a super stylish, low budget way.

Photography By Jeff Tessier

For years, I was hiding a dirty little secret. In fact, it was a big secret, and the worst kept one at that! My garage had slowly become a disorganized catch-all for everything from baby gear that we no longer needed, to athletic equipment for sports we never played, and home to approximately nine hammers because it got to a point where it was just easier to buy a new one rather than sift through the cluttered chaos in the hope of finding the ones we already owned.



I think most people would confess to having a junk drawer, or a junk closet, or maybe even a junk room, but when that room is your garage, there’s no keeping it a secret from the entire neighbourhood. Especially on garbage day when the door slowly raises to embarrassingly reveal the disaster zone in its entirety. So, instead of continuing our covert 2 a.m. garage-to-curb garbage missions, my husband and I resolved to clean up our act, and not only make our garage more organized and efficient, but also a well designed extension of our home.


With a modest budget, a heap of DIY elbow grease, and a dash of creativity, we set out to put the “fun” in functional and tackle the garage transformation ourselves. After a massive purge, which led to the rediscovery of the nine hammers, we began to prioritize our projects, and at the top of the list was to address the shell of the space. We spent a weekend installing finished drywall and insulation to the walls and ceiling, which immediately made the garage feel more like a room, and then we began to prep the floors.


Now that we could finally see the garage floor for the first time in nearly a decade, we noticed that our existing concrete floors had extensive automotive oil and paint stains, pitting from wear and tear, they were long overdue for a cosmetic overhaul. After extensive cleaning, an application of Rust-Oleum’s Moisture Stop to seal the substrate, and to patch all the cracks and divots with concrete, we used FastPatch, before applying a top coat. My husband had always dreamed of a glossy, fresh finish like something you would see in a luxury car dealership, but we didn’t want to invest thousands of dollars into a lengthy and expensive application by a pro. After researching various options, we discovered Rust-Oleum’s RockSolid flooring kit with an anti-slip additive that creates a marbleized glass effect, and we were beyond thrilled by how easy and affordable it was to DIY our own showroom-worthy floors.


Another obvious project priority was the introduction of smart and savvy storage solutions. We wanted to maximize vertical space as much as possible, and by adding a combination of slat wall, overhead mounted bike hooks, and moveable modular storage cabinets from Gladiator Garage Works, we could get items up off the floor and onto the walls and ceiling.

For added storage, I had the idea of upcycling an old wood dresser to stylishly stash small bits and bobs such as: screws, paint brushes, sandpaper. I quickly realized that a solid wood piece might not fair well with the extreme seasonal climate changes inside the garage, so I went on the hunt for an alternatively thrifty option. Thanks to Kijiji, I scooped up a vintage metal library cabinet for only $20— SCORE! With a quick wire-brush cleaning to remove loose rust, and a coat of rust-inhibiting Tremclad in Sun Yellow, my frugal find became a show-stopper of a storage solution.


High on my garage makeover wish list was the addition of a dedicated workbench, but I quickly realized that if we intended to park two cars in the garage (which we could now finally do), there wouldn’t be enough room for a permanent work surface. After a mini-brain wave, I decided to DIY my own space-saving work station by affixing a stained pine board to a pair of folding wall brackets. The simple solution now allows me to raise the table when I need it, and then fold it away against the wall when we want to park a car in the garage.

To create a crafty and colourful tool storage solution above the table, I simply primed and painted a pre-cut piece of pegboard, and then framed it out with some inexpensive mouldings. Now, there is place for everything, and everything in its place—including the hammer.

Since the completion of our DIY garage renovation, the only secret left to confess is the fact our garage is now officially (and ironically) the nicest room in our house!

SOURCES FLOORING: Moisture Stop, Fast Patch, ROCK SOLID: Rust-Oleum STORAGE: Gladiator Garage Vintage METAL LIBRARY CABINET FIX: Tremclad, Rust-Oleum

A self-proclaimed DIY ninja, Leigh-Ann believes that great design has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with your budget. As an expert on CityTV’s Cityline, Leigh-Ann embraces every opportunity to spark creativity and instill confidence in others who strive to “DO IT YOURSELF.” For more information, visit huelala.com @leighannallaire


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