Kiki Interiors - Decor and Staging

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eco-chic Hotel

My husband and I just had a mini-getaway from our everyday life!  It was so refreshing.  We found a fabulous new hotel in Syracuse - The Skyler Hotel.  We were looking for something special with a boutique feel - this had that and is a Green hotel!

The Skyler Hotel is a historical building that has been renovated, re imagined and re purposed.  It was once a Temple and then a theatre and now a hotel.  Instead of demolishing the building they renovated to make rooms, a bar, and lobby.  Plus many of the materials are reclaimed, 40% of the wood used is local and even the housekeeping practices are green too!

If you are into Greeg design, decor and Green products let this beautiful hotel inspire you

Green is gorgeous too...take a look at this hotel

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Worst upgrades for the resale of your home

In terms of of resale the bathrooms and kitchen of your home are definite areas to spend (but not over spend).  Bu there are some areas in the home that are just a bad idea to upgrade and you will not see the return.

1.  Wall-to-wall carpet.  If you are replacing your carpet flooring before you sell, hardwood is a must.  That is what buyers are looking for.  Carpet just doesn't work for anyone with pets or allergies plus it's tough to give it a quick clean.  If you have hardwood now, take a close look at it - does it need any repairs? refinishing?

2.  Whirlpool baths, indoor hot tubs and saunas.  Once upon a time they were considered desirable but now many buyers find them passe and are afraid of what extra costs will be involved.

3.  Colourful bath fixtures.  If you are updating the toilets, sinks and tubs in your bathrooms to get ready for sale (even if it is years away), keep the fixtures white - not almond, grey, pink etc...White is neutral and clean so it will appeal to everyone.

4.  Ornate chandeliers, wall paper, textured walls and bold paint colours.  No.  Do not do this.  Keep it simple.  Stick with neutral paint colours.  Wall paper is just seen as a big removal project, textured walls were once a big trend but he trend is over and as for big splashy chandeliers - that's a personal touch that should go with you when you move, so just put in a simple chandelier for the potential new owners.

5.  Expensive sound systems and home theatres.  If you are doing updates for your home as you start to prepare it for sale, do not spend you money on this, it might attract some buyers but most audio/cinephiles would rather just install this themselves. If you have a large basement that would really suit a home theatre this is something your real estate agent could mention at open houses and showings.

6.  Laminate or vinyl flooring.   Although it has come a long way in terms of style and it is practical for pets, kids, allergies and easy cleaning - it isn't a feature that buyers like.  For only a bit more money, opt for ceramic, bamboo or hardwood.

7.  Removing bedrooms, turning a three bedroom into a two bedroom home.  Even if one or two bedrooms are on the small side - do not eliminate one.  Fewer bedrooms means you will likely get less money on the resale market.  Plus anyone looking for a three bedroom will not see a two bedroom home.  Two bedroom condo apartments are popular but not two bedroom homes.

8.  Swimming pools.  There is a lot of discussion among Realtors about pools.  Buyers often love them or hate them - so if you have a big yard that would fit a pool, let your realtor pitch that idea a open houses and showings. It's not an upgrade worth putting in.

9.  Appliance upgrades.  Stainless steel is certainly the 'colour' of choice for buyers but don't get crazy with professional grade appliances it's really not necessary.  Plus built-in espresso machines are seen as a concern if they breakdown and wine fridges are a personal item (not everyone drinks wine).

10.  Odd rooms.  If you are in an older home you probably have some attic space or neat little nook under the stares - do not spend the time, money or effort trying to convert these funky little spots into a room or bathroom.  Show your realtor these spaces and he/she will simply call them 'storage' which IS something buyers are all looking for.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall entertaining : table top ideas

The Fall can be a sad season for some because it means that summer is over (along with the sunny and warm weather) and winter is around the corner.  But  Fall is such a beautiful season and should be celebrated! 

To create a Fall harvest celebration table top, try some of these ideas:

1.. Add a garland to the table, run it along the centre and mix up some candles, mini pumpkins, gourds and pine cones

2.. Look to add some 'nature' inspired plates such as leaf prints or fall coloured plates

3.. Add some Fall harvest inspired table linens like runners, chargers and napkins.  A classic cream base with some leaf or tree images is a great way to celebrate the Fall season.

4.. Edible centrepieces - use apples, squash, figs, carrots and other Fall veggies/fruit to decorate your table.

5.. Colourful napkins in reds, brown and oranges, buy some Fall napkin rings or try making your own napkin rings with some saying or blessing for Thanksgiving

6.. Punch bowl, check out the pumpkin punch bowl from Pottery Barn.  something to use this Thanksgiving and every other but also use it at a Fall cocktail party. It's so fun and festive!

7.. Florals.  there are so many beautiful fall flowers - mums, sunflowers etc...for your next fall dinner party or Thanksgiving feast get a gorgeous Fall floral centrepiece - flowers make everything more beautiful!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Decor Ideas for your Home

So tomorrow is officially the first day of the fall season!  Although the arrival of fall means that winter isn't too far away - I still love the fall season!!  The colours, the smells, the weather and the overall landscape. It's just gorgeous!

My children are even getting into the spirit of the changing season - they love to collect fallen pine cones, visits to the local apple orchards and pumpkin patch.  They are just itching to pick their own pumpkin! 

I have already jumped into my fall decor.  I started with the exterior with a fall harvest wreath made of natural materials in rich and sophisticated colours like - espresso brown, burgundy and eggplant.  My personal tip on a wreath is to go natural (if you can).  It just looks so much better.  If you can't find one you like, try making your own - you can use natural materials like grapevine and various 'findings' on nature walks like pine cones and colourful leaves - don't forget the glue gun!

But I think the favourite outdoor decor item of my children is the scarecrow.  I have one for each of them.  You can make your own or buy one (they are available at so many stores).

Other great ways to celebrate the fall season - try bails of hay at the door step or on the porch.  Add some baskets of hardy fall mums and some pumpkins.

Also check out your local nursery or grocery store for beautiful (already planted/potted) fall flower baskets.  they are so full and lush.  The colours are so spectacular and it's so easy just leave at the door step and voila!  Just water when needed and don't worry about the drastic temperature changes that come with the fall season, these flowers are designed for it.

For your interior, try some simple bowls with mini pumpkins, pine cones and/or gourds.  Try switching your white candles for olive or orange tones.  Bouquets of sunflowers and Gerber daisies look so fall festive.  Bowls of fresh picked apples is another great table centrepiece.Tall glass vases with sticks in the corner of any room add a natural and organic feel to the space.

To keep fall decor looking modern, mix the natural elements with more streamlined pieces.  Try mini pumpkins in a glass bowl, contemporary floral arrangements with fall flowers.  In order to achieve a modern look, keep it simple and streamlined. 

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Classic Greek Key

Everyone loves a classic and  you are looking for some long lasting pattern to add to your decor - the Greek Key is a classic and it has been reborn.  Often when one thinks of the Greek Key they think of traditional design but this classic has been modified to suit many styles of decor and again, it's how you use it.

To keep it low key - use this as a trim on your drapery.  Also think about colour, if you don't want to be bold try going with a tone on tone Greek Key fabric.

To go a bit bolder - look at adding some pattern and/or colour to a chair or pillows

Flooring - use a Greek Key pattern on an area rug

Bedding - this pattern is so chic and elegant in a bedroom too, again look at using colour to vary up the traditional look.

And if you want to add just a little visual interest to a small space, try adding some Greek Key towels to your Master ensuite or powder room.  

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Organize this!!

You don't have to wait until spring to clear out the clutter and get organized.  The fall is a great time to tackle this task, too.

I like to start small with simple projects like organizing one pantry shelf at a time or the junk drawer.  but if you are ambitious, here are some great ideas to get organized.

1.  Family fun room: Instead of art on the walls, try open shelving.  This offers great storage for books and board games.  And for the other 'loose' items like toys and crafts try using a colourful box or basket.  Get this kids involved in the tidy-up process too.  Having these items accessible also means that they will be used more often, too.

2.  Storage: Add storage wherever you can!  As your children get older they also come with more stuff.  so try to incorporate storage in seating (storage ottomans or cubes are great), trunks in the kids rooms etc...There are many options on the market now but you'll need to look around if you are in smaller markets.

3.  Kitchen: an over sized chalkboard!  I actually used chalk board paint on my pantry doors.  I kept track of what groceries we needed and what events were taking place.  A busy family needs a calendar so put yours in a hot spot of the home.  the mudroom is another great spot for an over sized calendar.

4.  The entry/hall: hooks!  Invest in lots of hooks that can easily be attached to the wall.  Make sure to put them at a height that your kids can reach to hang their things (coats, sweater and back-packs).  If you don't want these items hanging out in the hallway- hang the hooks inside the front entry closet.

5.  Mudroom: if you are lucky enough to have one - it's perfect for the kids!  Add some inexpensive wire baskets to the wall to keep important notices and homework assignments (that need to go back to school), you can also keep hats and mitts in the baskets too.  It's also a good idea to have a storage bench - this is great to store seasonal items but also to help you get the kids dressed for the outdoors. You can also install some large hooks to hang umbrellas.  since the mudroom is such a perfect spot for the kids make it kid friendly by adding some fun colour and hang their hooks an accessible height for them.

6.  Modern playroom: perfect for urban living - dedicate a corner of your living room to your child and integrate it with your decor, so use complimentary colours to your existing theme.  Use cool contains to store toys and books, and have a funky chair for the kids, too.

7.  Finished basement: use that nook under the stairs for storage, using cool baskets, book cases and maybe even a small cabinet perfect for storing more kids' stuff or seasonal items.

It's important to take on a big de-cluttering job every year, it's amazing what we accumulate.  If we want to live stress free lives we need to eliminate as much clutter as we can.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

If you love it so much, then why don't you marry it?

OK, remember hearing that as a child? I do. 
If you are a lover of art, maybe you can't marry it BUT you can sleep in it!

Check out  for a new way to bring art into your home.

They have duvet sets, duvet covers and shams - plus you can learn all about these amazing artists.
 This is great for anyone who does not have a lot of wall space (condo dwellers - that' you!)

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Style at Home celebrates their 15th anniversary

Style at Home - one of my go-to magazines for great decor and design ideas, hottest trends, design on a budget and my specialty 'the look for less' is celebrating their 15th anniversary.

Check out their 15 years of covers.  It's really fun to see how home decor has evolved over the years...

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Favourite things - Eggflat 'bowl'

I'm a big fan of having fruit out and available for my kids and guests but I also like the way it looks.  I'm also a fan of having a beautiful bowl to display my seasonal fruit in as well.

Check out this great find:  It's called the Eggflat.  Love this item!!  Because of it's unique look and shape, eco friendly material and the colour too. 

So here are the details:
- by Josh Jakus
- it folds flat for storage
- made of pressed wool felt in grey made from factory excess
- you can manipulate the shape so it can hold a variety of items
- 12" x 12" square shape
- eco-friendly

Available at Digs showroom

Another thing I like about this is because the fruit is separated, if one spoils it won't affect the other pieces of fruit.  (One bad apple can spoil the bunch but not with the Eggflat)

Good chance you'll see this in my next model condo project ;)

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Be the Haunted House on your street this Halloween

Halloween isn't that far away, so now it is time to start planning ahead to get ready to make your home the spookiest on the street

1.  Spiderweb doormat:  using a basic black door mat you can use white paint to create a spiderweb on the black fabric of the door mat.

2.  Paper lanterns:  light up the stairs to your front door with paper lanterns, you can make your own paper lanterns out of lunch bags and try adding some eerie touches with bats and spiders.  Or get the kids to make their own paper lanterns. Use votive candles to keep them lit.

3.  Plant a witch? Re-purpose your flower urns or planters this Halloween, take some bendable mannequin legs (available online) and dress them up in striped stockings and wicked witch-y shoes.  "Plant" them upside down in your planter and add some moss for a full effect.

4.  Give'm the creeps with crawly things: check out your local dollar store for some spiderweb decor or use cheese cloth.  And now add some spooky spiders to the mix and make them yourself - using various sizes of Styrofoam balls, paint them black, use toothpick to keep them together and use black pipe cleaners for legs.  Stick your extra large spiders to your decorative cobwebs.

5.  Garage door = blank canvas: use this space to create a frightening scene.  Add some spooky silhouettes of witches, cauldrons, bats and ghosts.  If you garage door is already black in colour, add some yellow 'crime scene' tape - urging other to stay back!!

6.  Front yard cemetery.  Check out your local Halloween superstore or even grocery store for some pre-made headstones, add some accents to the headstones like cobwebs, spiders and some random skeletons around the front yard to create a creepy cemetery scene

7.  Ghosts in the wind.  Using old white sheets (or white fabric) , blown up balloons and some twine - you can have your very own ghosts.  Hang the fabric over the balloon and use the twine to tie around the 'neck' of the ghost and hang it in the tree or by the front porch.  If it's windy out it will look very real!

8.  If you love these ideas, but still want more - check out this link:

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Best in Desks

Alright so the kids went back to school last week and if you are a little behind in setting up a workspace for them - no worries, it's always better late than never.

Last winter, my big project was to organize my husband's home office.  Our 3rd baby was on the way and he knew he would be working more from home, so I thought an organized home office for him would be perfect!  I de-cluttered, organized, labeled and set up a great workspace.  I started with a basic desk and filing cabinet.  I added a large bookcase to store his books, and office supplies but also to add some decor.  I put a colourful rug on the floor, hung some simple drapes, hung some family photos and added some great lighting and voila a beautiful workspace with style.

My kids aren't quite school age yet but as a former teacher I know how important a proper workspace is and here are my top picks :

IKEA is a great spot to start for desks and other office basics.

The Expedit desk./bookcase combo is easy to assemble, very affordable and works across all ages.  It has lots of storage, it also has lots of surface space too.  It comes in birch, white and black/brown.

The Malm desk is another great basic desk.  Lots of surface space and storage too for files and drawers for other basics.  Comes in white, birch and black/brown and again really reasonably priced.

Crate and Barrel has lots of options too but they are better if you are looking at investing in pieces and really creating a beautiful home office.  Not to say that the pieces aren't functional - they are but the look and price point involve a higher price point and aren't really targeting a child audience.

The Brey is a beautiful ebony stained desk with a extra wide tray for the keyboard, it also has separate compartments for various home office basics like pens, sticky notes etc...

The TLD desk from Crate and Barrel is another great option especially for teens, university students or adults.  The second level of the desk is great for storage items giving lots of surface work space.  Reasonably priced and a timeless natural wood finish.  Great for small spaces too

Other great office add-ons:

white board

filing cabinets


letter or file holders


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Monday, September 10, 2012

All things Halloween!

Halloween is the ultimate holiday!  It's full of freight and fantasy, food and fun!  It's the perfect holiday for all ages, too1  If you are looking for some of the best ideas out there for parties, decor, food and are my current top Halloween resource picks for Halloween 2012

If you are looking for the best go-to resource for Halloween ideas for parties, decor, costumes, make up and so much more...than you need to check out The Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook Special collector's Edition 2012

Now if you are looking for new Halloween ideas and have many of Martha's previous Halloween magazines this issue is basically a 'best of' so you might be disappointed
But if you are new to the World Martha Stewart Halloween, than I would say this handbook is perfect for you or you can check out an online decade of Martha Stewart Halloween.  Now one thing about Martha is if you are craft or cooking challenged her ideas would be a big leap for you so work up to them but she has amazing ideas  for costumes, parties and make up that inspire any Halloween party planner

But here are some other magazines to check out that will leave you with some spook-tacular ideas for this Halloween and future Halloweens to come...

1.  Matthew Mead Halloween Magazine  Vintage Halloween with a modern spin, lots of simple craft projects, great entertaining ideas, tasty treats and spooky decor ideas, too

2.  Phyllis Hoffman Celebrate Halloween  Tons of great craft ideas (love the 'Candy Corn Party Invitation', and the 'Mummy's Night Out' invitation and definitely try the rich chocolate apple recipe, too)

3.  Gooseberry Patch Halloween  Perfect for families, as just about every craft and idea is kid-friendly!  Lots of super cute projects to get the kids involved be sure to check out the 'Haunted Ginger House'

4.  101 Spooktacular Party Ideas  This is another great starter book for crafts, party ideas, costumes and more.  Perfect again for kids.  this is a great book for a busy mom because it just keeps everything so simple. Plus lots of photos for every idea!

5.  Hungry Halloween  If you are tired of the same old Halloween classic snacks like popcorn balls - pick this up!  You can host a 'bewitched buffet' with Mummy Lasagna, Black Widow Bites, Werewolf Won-tons and so much the recipes are fun and budget friendly.  The kids and you party guests will love it and be amazed by your creativity

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fabulous find for Condo lifestyles

OK, so I know I write a lot about this subject but that's because the condo life is so popular and I am often asked to find some great multifunctional pieces for small spaces. Well, here are a few more of my favourites:

The Sidecar high dining table - from Crate and Barrel.  It is sleek and streamlined so it fits beautifully in most spaces.  It has great storage at the side for cookbooks, bottles water, snacks whatever.  It can be used for dining it could even be used as a desk.  It's really affordable at $499.00 Pair it with any stool and you have an awesome multifunctional piece.  Love!

The Sift Raw Wall shelf - another great storage item from Crate and Barrel.  It has a very industrial look about it and it is so practical.  It's open shelving but it can be used in so many places.  The kitchen for dishes, the bathroom for linens or the office for books etc...Really reasonably priced at $139.00. 

The Winfrid Sofa - from is an awesome piece because it can do so much.  A lot of 'condo furniture' is low to the ground and can be quite uncomfortable. The Winfrid has a streamlined modern look but the back height and arm height adjust - perfect for guests of all shapes and sizes (and heights).  The price is right too just under $2,100

Fatboy Pet Lounger - from another great way to keep the pet off your fabulous furniture is to get them some of their own. It comes in - red, black, orange, pink, lime green, sand,  and camo.  it comes in large or small and it made of a nylon so it doesn't absorb odours and stains are easy to remove with a damp cloth.

The William Mates Bed - another great piece available from .  This is a perfect piece for a spare bedroom or a child's room.  This 'mate' style of bed comes in a twin or queen.  it offers storage under the bed - and I don't mean shoving the dirty clothes under the bed but actual storage. 

Crate and Barrel offers a similar bed but in a more contemporary design.  Called the Stowaway Queen bed and check out the chalk board detail on the drawers - another tool for organizing.  Label the drawers (shoes, sweaters, books etc...) to help you find everything and keep everything in it's place.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Flipping out!

With all of those 'home flipping' shows out there so many people are trying it out for themselves.  And it's a great and quick way to make so cash BUT you have to know what you are doing.

Just this week I met with a 'flipper' to help him with an interior and exterior colour package to make the house look amazing but on a tight budget.  The house was originally built in 1959 and was completely untouched.  He has some great ideas to make the house look incredible and really attract buyers - he's opened up the floor plan, he's adding new tile (to replace the old and dated linoleum), new light fixtures, new paint, updating the bathrooms and cleaning up the exterior which is currently covered up by 3 large and overgrown evergreens.

But already he has made some mistakes that have really eaten up his $30,000 budget.

1-  He met with a kitchen designer (which is smart) but you must as a flipper communicate your budget and what you are doing.  Yes, you want the home to look good but within a budget.  His kitchen will cost him $10,000 and that is just for the cabinets - no flooring, no counter top, no appliances, no back splash, no lighting - so now he really has to make the remaining $20,000 really stretch.

2 - His realtor has told him he can build an income property in the basement (aka a basement apartment) which is true but he needs to clear this with the city first to make sure it is a legal basement apartment. To have a legal income property there are certain permits are required along with inspections.  If you do not get these permits or inspections it can really cost you in the end. Lucky for this flipper he has not started the work on the basement and is now thinking about just finishing up the basement with some new lighting, drywall, paint and carpet for a rec room space.

If you are interested in house flipping, here are some really important tips to follow:

1.  Do not get emotional.  This is a business transaction.  Yes you need and must care about following building codes but when it comes to the renovation do not get carried away with the upgrades and expensive pretty things.  also do not get too emotional when it comes time to sell, by holding out for the right price you are losing money every month by paying a mortgage.  Listen to the market.

2.  First impressions really matter.  We are all familiar with the expression 'don't judge a book by it's cover" but when it comes to buying a house (and getting top dollar) the 'cover' matters so make the house look it's best inside and out.

3.  Don't get too personal with your flip.  Make sure to choosing interior and exterior finishings and colours that will attract a broad range of buyers.  So don't get too bold with your selections.  If you aren't certain what to choose ask an expert in a home improvement store, paint store or cabinet store - what is popular?

4.  Focus on the hot spots.  Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes - so spend the bulk of your time and energy in there.  Keep your budget in mind, what's popular/selling in the neighbourhood and the buyer expectations, for example f you are trying to sell a home in a high end neighbourhood buyers expect stone counters, hardwood flooring etc...

5.  Time is money.  Have a plan and stick to it.  Have a list of what you need/want done.  discuss this list with your contractor and/or crew and create a realistic timeline of everything that needs to be done.  Bumps in the road do occur (I've never heard of a Reno that hasn't hit a few snags) so factor in a few days grace.  Tackle the largest jobs first.

6.  Find good help, although hard to find.  Ask around.  Make sure your contractor is there everyday and communicate with him everyday - asking for updates on how the house is going along with your budget.  Check on the home everyday too - this always surprises me when investors do not actually check on the home to see the progress - this is a must!

7.  Paperwork is normal and get it done first.  The paperwork I'm talking about is permits.  You need them before the work starts and they can take  few months but do not start the work without them because you can be shut down if you do.  Keep all receipts for all of the items you purchase as well - you may need to make returns or exchanges. You will also want to track you expenses and use those numbers to help you estimate for your next flip.

8.  If you are thinking that this is not a one time thing - work your way up.  Start with a small project 'a lipstick' job meaning a job that is simply cosmetic.  Take one bigger projects once you have some experience under your belt.

9.  Expect the unexpected.  Be prepared for silly things to happen along the way.  Lost paperwork, not enough tiles were delivered, the paint colour is off, odd feedback from potential buyers...not much you can do to prepare or circumvent this from happening but expect it.

10.  If you are working with an agent (you probably did with the purchase and might for the sale, too) talk to them about what they think the home could sell for after the renovation, who they think will buy the home and what will that buyer be looking for.  The answers to those questions will really help guide you to make certain choices.  For example, the flipper I met with this week has not had those discussions with his realtor.  I suggested to him that the buyer might be a young family and an income property in the basement might not appeal to them, they would probably prefer a basement family room.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

Art be thy name...

I love art!  It doesn't matter who the artist is or the price point - I feel and I know if you love an art piece you will always have a spot for it in your home.  And that's how you should shop for art - go with your gut - if you love it, buy it!

Some of my favourite places for art:

And when you move, you may need to find a new place for your favourite art pieces but you will always have a place for them in your home.  Don't go with a piece because it fits or the colours work - go based on feeling...

And if you have a lot of art and don't know what to do with it - try hanging them in a gallery style collection on the wall - but use a similar style of frame to keep the collection looking cohesive.

If you have an old piece and want to update it - try a new frame to modernize the whole look.  One of my go-to places for custom framing is Michaels

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