House Tour: Kim's One Room at a Time

House Tour: Kim's One Room at a Time

Janel Laban
Mar 24, 2009

Name: Kim Johnson of Desire to Inspire
Location:Ottawa, Ontario
Size: 926 sq. ft.
Years lived in: 15 months, Owned


Kim Johnson, co-creator of design blog Desire to Inspire, has been busy. After finding a liveable house in Ottawa's Little Italy within her price range, she has begun a complete overhaul of her new 926 s.f. home. While the home, built in 1915, was move-in ready, most of the rooms needed complete redos. So, she and her six cats have set off on a voyage of renovation and decoration one room at a time. With daily inspiration coming from her research for her blog, Kim is no stranger to great style and has a knack for the DIY...


Kim's home is full of inspiring DIY projects such as the sectional sofa that she and her boyfriend made specifically for her living room and the art deco shelf that she refinished. Taking on each project with vigour and a keen eye, she has made her way through living room, kitchen and dressing room so far.

Her kitchen was recently renovated in December 2008, and was the subject of a blog dedicated to the entire process. The result was a space custom fitted to her home and her taste, that Kim calls her "dream kitchen."

Next up are her bedroom and the two bathrooms. While the details of her home are always being fine-tuned, these three spaces are the last on the list of rooms to renovate. In the meantime, we enjoyed a peek into her bright, colorful and cheerful home—or work-in-progress as she says.


My Style: I have a hard time putting a label on my style. I love so many styles and try and incorporate them all in my home. So perhaps I'll just call it eclectic. Or mid-century boho.

Inspiration: I am constantly finding inspiration when I'm doing research for the blog. I look at thousands and thousands of photos of interiors, and if a photo sticks in my mind for more than 5 seconds, I know there's something there. Jo, my blog partner, is a HUGE inspiration. She got me hooked on thrifting and mid-century décor.

Favorite Element: I'd honestly have to say my kitchen cabinets. They are so gorgeous and unlike anything I've ever seen before. I am so grateful to Greentea Design for supplying me with them for my kitchen renovation, as I had so much work to do in the renovation (knocking down some walls, tearing the other walls down to the studs, replacing the floor, sealing up a door, replacing a window….) that I never would have been able to afford them otherwise.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge I face is working with a small space. Not only is my house small, but it is VERY narrow – only 12' 2" wide. It's difficult arranging furniture in a narrow space when you have to worry about leaving a path to get from one room to the next. My other challenge is that I have so many styles that inspire me and not enough rooms to achieve all the looks I'd love to try.

What Friends Say: My friends and family who saw my house in the condition it was in when I purchased it are impressed with the amount of work I've managed to get done, and how much of an improvement the changes have made. And they are all very jealous of my new kitchen and appliances.

Biggest Embarrassment: The bathrooms. I have not had a chance (or funds) to do anything with them yet, and they are completely hideous. Anyone visiting my home for the first time is warned before they see them that I had nothing to do with their current condition. (They are so bad, I'm pretty sure the cabinets installed over both toilets were hung upside down).

Proudest DIY: The sectional sofa my boyfriend and I built a couple weeks ago was a huge success and turned out much better than I thought we were capable of. It looks great if I may say so, and is ridiculously comfortable. And the versatility of it is ideal for my small living room. I'd also have to say the stairs going to the second level. They were initially covered in white carpet (stapled on), and when I removed that I discovered linoleum tiles with steel trim, that were probably the original finish due to the way they were literally crumbling. My boyfriend and I replaced the treads and risers with new wood, and I painted it all out white.

Biggest Indulgence: The kitchen. I'll be paying off my new kitchen for some time….but it was worth every penny. Once I found out my cabinets were going to be supplied to me by Greentea Design, I knew I had to step it up with all the other finishes to match the beauty of the cabinets. I had originally expected to purchase Ikea cabinetry and find some vintage pieces to finish the room off which would have cost way less than what I ended up paying. But the end result is my dream kitchen, and I am cooking up a storm!

Best Advice: Do not be hasty in choosing pieces for your home, especially if you have particular space constraints. You'll end up wasting a lot of money. I have a basement that is filled with furniture that just does not work in my home, mostly due to the proportions. I was at an antique shop down the street from me a few months after moving into this house and found 3 rattan and bamboo chairs that I thought I'd paint and use around the house. One of them is way too big and I should have known it wasn't the right scale for such a small house.

Dream Source: - the Canadian version of DWR. And


Living room:
Mural –
Arc lamp – thrift find
Marble tulip table – my parent's house
Tray table – was being thrown out years ago when I worked at a Club Monaco.
Asian cabinet/tv stand and coffee table -
Moroccan stool -
Fuschia leather poof – Giraffe, a local African store
2 tiered table – Yardleys antiques
red rattan chair – a local antique shop
sofa(s) – handmade, with cushions from Ikea's Lillberg sofabed.
Throw pillows on sofa – bargellos bought on eBay
Rug - eBay
Art – vintage Rosamonds (thrifted and from my parents basement), vintage Tretchikoffs from eBay, ETSY (,,,
Wall paint – Benjamin Moore's Misty Gray
Trim paint – Benjamin Moore's Distant Gray
Floor paint – Benjamin Moore's Pigeon Gray

Cabinets –
Pendants –
Wall mounted lights – Artemide's Tolomeo lights (can only be purchased in Canada from a Canadian distributor…mine came from
Table – made by my contractor, painted BM's Pigeon Grey (table base not working out, needs to be replaced)
Chairs – 2 vintage tulip chairs, 2 repro Eifel base Eames chairs from, 2 Vitra Panton S chairs, one vintage and one from
Rug – kilim from
Countertop – Hanstone quartz in specchio white
Faucet – Moen
Sink – don't know manufacturer, purchased at
Fridge/Range – Fisher & Paykel via
Hood fan – Airking purchased at
Stainless shelf – Ikea

Drawer unit – Ikea (Alex)
Desk – table top and legs, Ikea, covered in fabric from eBay
Converted armoire – Perth flea market
Inspiration board – frame constructed from Home Depot moldings
Lamp, Eames desk chair and side chair –
Curtain fabric – Etsy
Hooks, shoe rack, rug – Ikea
Plexi cube unit - was being thrown out years ago when I worked at a Club Monaco store.
Lamp on plexi cubes –
Walls and floor paint – Benjamin Moore's Oxford White
Door paint - Benjamin Moore's Sun Kissed Yellow

Dressing Room:
Rugs - Ikea
Chair - a local antique shop, covered in eBay fabric
Curtains – fabric from eBay
dressers – teakish one was the first piece of furniture bought by my mom. Other is from the Bay.
Large artwork of woman – Jocelyn of
Other artwork - my blog partner Jo
Wall colour – Benjamin Moore Blue Spa


(Thanks, Kim!)

Photos by Kim Johnson

-Jessica Blake

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