a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Jun, 2009

My back veranda. A little tour. A lot of stuff. (Photo heavy!)

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Giveaways and product reviews

Oh my pretties. I’ve been sitting on this blog post for SOME TIME NOW and I’m happy to finally be delivering the deliverables.* :)

Some time ago a lady from Canadian Tire emailed me a copy of the Canadian Tire Spring/Summer catalogue and asked me if I would consider flipping through it and maybe test driving some solar lights.

I was surprised she was contacting me, especially since my review of their product wasn’t exactly glowing. ;)

Still, I had no problem saying yes. I have a secret soft-spot in my heart for Canadian Tire. After all, they are a major part of the Canadian landscape! Canadian Tire was Big Box before long before the Big Box concept. What kid hasn’t bought sports equipment there? Or collected Canadian Tire money? Or wandered the aisles with dad looking for the right kind of nails/caulking/paintbrushes?

Anyway, our email exchange lead to a discussion about our back veranda. I sent the lady a couple of photos. VERY VERY EMBARASSING PHOTOS. Here’s one of them:


The room is basically a back porch with a roof over it … a three-season room with no insulation whatsoever.

When the girls were small we used this space as a playroom. There was a play kitchen and a trunk full of toy food and other kitchen/outdoorsy playthings but we’ve never used this room to its full potential. In the winter it stores our outdoor furniture and our recyclables (which is what you’re seeing above) and in the other seasons it’s been host to a hodge-podge of random furnishings which rendered it USABLE but gave off a distinct feeling of POOR STUDENT at the same time.

After some discussion about what would fit best, Canadian Tire came to my rescue. After much hemming and hawing and furniture assembly and endless sorting of rocks and seashells we finally have a pretty little room that I love.


The room

What is missing from this photo is the 3ft. patch of unpainted wood on the ceiling. I scraped and scraped and scraped the flaking wood plank ceiling but ended up leaving it because I couldn’t scrape any more and it was sucking the very life out of me. I scraped for half a day and got nowhere. There’s 50 years worth of paint embedded into the wood. So I left it. (My mother is shaking her head in utter dismay right now because my father used to build entire rooms, lay flooring, and scrape paint with his teeth!! Ha. Kidding about that last part. I know. I’m a failure.)

I promise to return to the paint issue another day. Or hire someone else to do it.

More details! First, the shelf. I spent a long time sorting it all out. Each collection is on a tray which can be pulled out for closer inspection.

The shelf o' stuff

Top shelf

golden acorns

Wasp nest and beach glass

bird nest and dead bugs for inspection

shell collection


Rock collection

pretty stones

More rocks!

pottery shelf

We have an ongoing shoe issue. I’m not sure how to resolve this one, but there it is:

shoe issue

Here’s a view of the shelf above the couch:

wee shelf


wee things

I like this pot:

plant pot

Here’s the view of the yard while sitting at the table:


And a few things on our folding dining table (which I would like to replace some day, but it does the trick for now):

shells stones and sand

pine cone close up

And just so you don’t think that Mark wasn’t allowed to have anything of his in the room I want to show you where I put The Magnet of Bachelor Days Gone By:

beer caps ;)

What do you think of putting a rug in an outdoor type of room? I like how it pulls it together but I’ll tell ya, we unrolled it a few days ago and it smells … like paint! The open windows are hopefully letting the the fumes escape before we lose some brain cells.

What I like about the room:

  • Curtains! I know they don’t quite make it across the wall/window but we decided to make use of a rod we already had. I like how the sheers are flowy and summery and give us privacy we never had before.
  • Places to sit! The modular couch is comfortable, not fall-asleep-cozy-nuzzled-in-the-couch kind of comfy, but comfy all the same. It’s from the Enso collection, and it’s modular so you can pick the components you like and figure out the best configuration for you. I like the red too, as well as the dark brown and tan cushions which came with it (all colours we use in our living room) but I might still throw in another cushion with a brighter pattern, just to liven it up.
  • I like that the room reflects who we are.
  • I like the visual division between mud-room and sitting area. We needed to accommodate for all the mucky gardening boots, leaves and grass clippings that somehow find their way into this room EVERY SINGLE DAY.

What’s next:

  • I’d like to get a big weatherproof outdoor clock on the west-facing wall.
  • New table and chairs?
  • The paint issue (sigh). I can’t ignore it forever.

Anyway, that’s it!

We’re all very happy to have a new room to enjoy. It’s been a lot of work to pull it all together but we’re all extremely pleased. Thank you Canadian Tire!


* Please note: Canadian Tire paid for some of the furnishings in my veranda but I was in no way obligated to write this post or give a favourable review.

20 Responses to "My back veranda. A little tour. A lot of stuff. (Photo heavy!)"

1 | Loukia

June 18th, 2009 at 9:58 am


Oh, wow, Andrea! That’s the best ‘after’ picture I have seen in forever! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the room! My son would go nuts looking at the rocks you have… he’s big into gems/crystals/rocks! Great job, you have been BUSY!

2 | The Veg Next Door

June 18th, 2009 at 10:19 am


OMG! That is absolutely beautiful. The whole room is wonderful but I love the shelfing unit with all the jars and other collectibles. It is worth a visit to just come over on a rainy day and touch everything in your collection. The Pea would love the seashell collection.

3 | Julie

June 18th, 2009 at 10:57 am


This is huge inspiration. I currently write in an office/playrrom/sunroom that looks like your before picture. Almost exactly like your before picture. The after picture really does showcase the creative and unique character of your family, while still having practical space to sit and what not. Congrats! Must feel wonderful.

4 | Amy @ Muddy Boots

June 18th, 2009 at 11:07 am


The shelf full of collectibles is my favorite part of the room. I bet your girls love to see all those little treasures on display. Using tea cups to hold things really works. You should plant another little succulent in a tea pot! That room must be such a welcome change to come home to.

6 | Lynn

June 18th, 2009 at 11:34 am


It looks fantastic, and your yard is lovely too. Such a nice getaway — the perfect place to sit with a cup of tea and your laptop!

7 | Ginger

June 18th, 2009 at 11:41 am


I love it! I would LOVE to have a space like that. We do have a screened in porch….I just might have to get working on it!

8 | porter

June 18th, 2009 at 12:49 pm


I love it Andrea! My fav part about the room is the shelf with the trays of goodies on it…it’s really special. Definitely pay someone to do the ceiling, it will be worth the money spent. Enjoy that room, it’s great…nice job!
PS-Marks magnet pulls the room together so nicely! ;)

9 | Rebecca

June 18th, 2009 at 6:46 pm


How amazingly beautiful! It seems like such an inspirational place to be. Well done

10 | BeachMama

June 18th, 2009 at 8:15 pm


Love it! I just love porches and wish we had one here. I also love an extra room that you can use and then put away for winter and use again, it gives a little something to look forward to. Great job.

11 | Mark

June 18th, 2009 at 10:01 pm


Porter: I never asked for that magnet to be there…in fact it was in the basement before. Personally, I think Andrea has a soft spot for the magnet (besides it’s super cool cause you can throw a bottle cap at it and if it lands anywhere near it, it gets sucked in instantly!)

12 | Peter Miller

June 19th, 2009 at 8:05 am


Looks great! You can come over and redecorate my house anytime!

13 | Laura

June 19th, 2009 at 8:55 am


It looks beautiful and I wish I had a covered veranda!
You should really consider sending the before and afters to a magazine contest… Canadian House and Home? You’d win for sure!

14 | Laura

June 19th, 2009 at 8:57 am


Oops, I forgot… I know of a good house painter if you need one for the ceiling!

15 | Thank God it’s Friday >> a peek inside the fishbowl

June 19th, 2009 at 9:42 am


[…] new and improved back veranda. When I walk into that room I feel THE BLISS. The weight just falls from my shoulders. Amazing how […]

16 | J.

June 19th, 2009 at 11:46 am


wow so pretty!

17 | Annie

June 19th, 2009 at 10:50 pm


Ooh!! I have the same brown and pink paisley rubber boots!! I get many many compliments on them! And the porch makeover is inspiring!! Great work!

18 | There’s no time like the present for this wartime home >> a peek inside the fishbowl

June 3rd, 2010 at 7:56 am


[…] We consider ourselves lucky to have an upstairs bathroom as part of our .5 storeys (we’ve seen some places that don’t), a garage, a dry basement, and an addition of an office as well as an enclosed back porch. […]

19 | Qian

November 24th, 2017 at 9:37 pm


Thanks for sharing.

20 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Things I am loving: our new patio lights - a peek inside the fishbowl

May 29th, 2018 at 3:46 pm


[…] gas, so no need for propane tanks!), a new/old plant stand, a modular couch (which I just realized we got in 2009), a table and four chairs, and a chaise […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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