Multifunctional Spaces: Our Kitchen Laundry Nook

Good morning!

One thing that renters and city dwellers often face is small spaces and as a result, rooms with many uses. When we see beautiful (not to mention enormous) homes in magazines and on Pinterest, complete with mudrooms, walk-in closets and laundry rooms, it’s hard to know how to make your own space work without coming up short.

In this house, we are lucky enough to have in-suite laundry! This is the first time Shaun and I have ever had such a luxury, and let me tell you, one cannot overestimate how fantastic it is. However, our laundry machines were stacked, with hideous temporary storage beside them, effectively blocking out all light from the neighboring window. They’re also kept in the kitchen, meaning we had to keep the solution multifunctional. I thought of Dana’s multipurpose dining/laundry/mudroom (House*Tweaking) as inspiration as I tackled this little spot.

Keep on reading to see how I changed it to a prettier and much more functional version:

Organized kitchen laundry nook

So here’s where we started. This is the photo I saw in the craigslist ad:

Kitchen before

It’s hard to tell here, (since the room is so terribly yellow!) but the big stackable washer and dryer were blocking the light from the side window and were the first things you saw upon entering the kitchen. Giant eyesores really.

Luckily, our landlord surprised us with new tile to replace that old beige lino, and Shaun painted it before we moved in. That in and of itself made a huge difference! From there, my hubby and one of his wonderful friends took the dryer off the top and placed them nicely side by side. I was so excited I didn’t even think to snap a photo, but all you need to do is unscrew the brackets in the back holding both machines together, and with a lot of oomph, lift it off. Surprisingly simple.

Here’s what we were left with (minus the shelf of course).

Unstacked washer and dryer

So much better, but I encountered a new challenge I hadn’t thought of before: exposed wires and plumbing. I needed a cheap, temporary and functional solution to hide these and provide storage for our laundry related cleaning supplies.

I loved my salvaged wood shelves in our last home, so I decided to do something similar here. I found a long piece of wood, 6′ by 11” by 1.75”, and varnished it with a semi-gloss to bring out the character in the wood and to protect it. You can see how I did it with our previous project here.

From there, it was hung with three basic brackets screwed into wall studs, being careful not to touch any of the electrical and plumbing work behind the wall.

Basic brackets to hang shelf

While the shelf would offer ample storage, it didn’t cover up the wires. To do so, I used a piece of fabric. I chose outdoor fabric to hold up better to stains (the outdoor fabric I used for my no-sew placemats is still holding strong!) and hemmed the sides to just skim the top of the machines with no-sew iron on tape. From there, I place it in between a narrow 6′ long piece of wood and screwed it in place, like so:

How to hang fabric from a shelf

From there it folded over nicely and easily covered everything up.

Laundry nook shelf

To hide the dryer tube (I really don’t know what you call that metal thing that collects the lint!), I found the perfect solution: an IKEA Raskog cart.

Ikea Raskog Cart

As an added bonus, someone was selling it on craiglist, so I purchased it for 40 instead of 70 CAD, and it was already assembled!

But let’s backtrack a minute, shall we? Confession time. This project happened back in April, back during our teaching practicums. I slapped it together without giving much thought as to what it would store, and it… showed.

Yikes. Laundry nook before

Yikes. After living with that mess for a few months, I had a much better idea of what I wanted to store there! I cleared it all out, and started fresh. Here’s how we use the cart:

Laundry nook Ikea cart

Multifunctional rooms need multifunctional storage pieces. This one holds our kitchen laundry for easy access, extra dish towels and dish cloths, our iron (metal is a great spot for iron storage! I never have to worry about melting or burning it), Bali’s water bottle for walks, and some often used garden tools we can grab for whenever the gardening mood strikes us. (Which honestly, for me isn’t often, but Shaun seems to be getting into it, happily!)

Use bowls to organize often used items on the top shelf

To stop it from being so chaotic like it was before, I used some simple and pretty bowls I had in the kitchen along with an extra $1.25 pot from IKEA to organize these little items. I’m hoping they’ll stop me from inadvertently creating another random dumping ground.

Accessible storage

Here are our dishcloths, our dog’s towel and our dustpan for easy access.

Raskog laundry cart

I find labeling stops me from mindlessly dropping things where they don’t belong. These easy chalkboard marker labels are extra insurance, and easily changed if ever I decide to use the cart for something different in the future.

Use a chalkboard marker to label a Raskog Ikea cart Chalkboard marker label

And here it is in its perfect little nook. I also keep our mini ironing board behind it: easy to access and put away, and it blocks the rest of the dryer… thing.

Raskog laundry cart

From there, I edited down our baskets to what we really needed (and kept our iron wine rack there too, because I think it looks nice with my baskets).

Use baskets for storage for open shelf laundry

The main one I use is laundry: detergent, spot cleaners, dryer sheets etc. (I added French labels because I don’t often get to include my other language in our home! Lavage: laundry).

Laundry basket labels

Beside it, I have extra laundry items (lint rollers, bleach etc.) and car washing supplies.

Labeled laundry storage

With all the space I saved once I cleared out the random things I didn’t need, I was left with an empty basket. I opted to house our cleaning supplies here, instead of under the kitchen and bathroom sink, as they were before. They were getting lost under there. Now they’re easy to reach for, I don’t need to worry about my young nieces and nephews finding dangerous products when they come over, and I have new space under the sinks for things like… step stools. (I’m not very tall!)

Produits nettoyants cleaning products basket

So again, the before…

Kitchen before

And (almost) after! It makes me smile every time I walk into the kitchen. I want all my storage spaces to be this organized! Everything has its place and everything here is actually used in our home.

Organized laundry nook in the kitchen

Now that we don’t have that extra cart on the other side, we even have more space for Bali’s dog dishes. Eventually I’d like a bench for her food so she doesn’t have to lean over so far. All in due time…

Organized kitchen laundry nook

Now for some art work! Stay tuned :)

Organized laundry nook

I hope this helps to inspire you with your multipurpose rooms. As bonus, having laundry in the kitchen is surprisingly useful. I can throw a load on while I’m cooking! Who knew? Europeans I guess..! Please feel free to comment below if you have any questions or something you’d like to add. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Organize Your Small (or Non-Existent) Entryway: Part I

Our entry has been bothering me for a while. Even though there is an actual designated entry closet (which is more than I can say for our last place!), our stuff still seemed to pile up in the corners of the space. Shaun was constantly losing his keys, his wallet, our bags didn’t have anywhere to go… It wasn’t functional.

I’ve been working away at it, seeing which systems worked for us and which didn’t. Here’s where we landed! (Get it? Landing strip? Ha!)

5 tips for an organized small (or non-existent) rental entryway

1. First up, our dog leash hook. I love this piece from Anthropologie!

Dog leash hook

I’m a big proponent of adding fancier touches, even if you’re on a small budget. A cute piece like this was 20 bucks, but it adds a fun little touch (B for Bali Bear!), without splurging on a ridiculously expensive piece of furniture. It also prevents your home from looking like an IKEA ad!

Simple landing strip

2. Next is my favourite part of this little corner: a drop zone for our keys, wallets, phones and sunglasses.

Landing strip wire organizer

Originally, our entry didn’t have a spot to place these items when we came in, so I either placed them in a bowl down the hall, or randomly around the apartment.

Entry corner before

I had been looking for small key hooks for a while, but it wouldn’t really do any good for wallets and sunglasses. When I saw this wire organizer from Winners, I had an idea.

Wire organizer

These I think would usually be used in drawers or free standing, but I thought it would be a perfect solution to our problem! I printed out a label on basic cardstock, and added a cute little touch with some washi tape.

Add flair to your labels with washi tape

From here, after some trial and error with screws, we discovered picture hanging hooks were a perfect solution.

Use picture frame hooks to hang a wire organizer

Hang a wire organizer for your stuff with picture frame hooks

Washi tape labelHang a wire organizer to create a landing strip for keys, phones and wallets

Where were we?

5 tips for an organized small (or non-existent) rental entryway

3. Place a wastebasket for incoming garbage or recycling. (Ours is used to keep newspaper contained.

4. Stop dirt from being tracked inside your home with entry mats. These are two cheapos from Ikea layed side by side.

Small entry organizing ideas

5. Our last issue was bags. We’d come home from school, and Shaun’s backpack ended up thrown into this corner. I tried thinking of all sorts of spots we could keep it, when he reminded me of one of my organizing standbys, that he loves too: instead of trying to change your family members habits, work with them and create solutions from there. He always puts his bag here, so I repurposed a basket from our bedroom to make a contained spot for his bag. Much cleaner!

Rental Entryway

I love the character in our home. Now that we have a clean entry, I can appreciate our rounded archways and beautiful original floors so much more!

Oh yes, you must be wondering about my bonus tip! To the left of the mirror, down the hall, we also have a spot to sort our mail, using an Ikea Kvissle. Check out the how to here. You can’t see the labels on the side anymore (I might eventually just move them to the front), but this little nook was just perfect for it! (What were those used for, anyway? Ideas?)

Organize your mail and paper piles with IKEA Kvissle

Entry hallway

I’m loving our newly organized entry… Hopefully seeing it every day will keep me motivated to tackle other problem spots in our home… There are many.

How to create a small space landing strip

I hope you found some inspiration to tackle your small entry. Be sure to check back soon for Part II, our entry closet!

 

Rented Inspiration: Our Organized Linen Closet

It’s on. Organizing time folks. I have been waiting to organize this space since the day we moved in back in March! There always seems to be something getting in the way… Unpacking, practicums, school, our wedding…

I am just bursting will all the ideas I have for my space, but often end up discouraged by the sheer multitude of it all. Our office, our bedroom, our entryway… Just so many on the to do list. I’m reminding myself to count my victories- I finally had the chance to tackle our linen closet!

When confronted with a multitude of areas to fix, it can be overwhelming. Organizing a home in a way that works for you and your family can take months, even years maybe. I gave it some thought, and realized that these two closets are at the core of our space. It’s where we store linens, yes, but also tools, light bulbs, extra shoes, tissues… And beside it is our pantry! I knew I needed to get on this spot. There were so many extra things without a place to call home because I wasn’t using this area efficiently.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Linen closet mess

I apologize for the blurriness of these photos. They’re just the before shots, and I was just so ready to dive in!

Linen closet before

You can see some remnants of past systems in our old home, but without any true thought given to how to best work with it, it just became a dumping ground. It was hard to even know what was in the closet with such a mismash.

To begin, I cleared it all out, shelves included.

Empty linen closet

As soon as we moved in, I knew I wanted to tackle those shelves. The previous tenants had simply wrapped the plain MDF shelves in paper to hide them. I don’t have anything against repurposing an item with paper, but there’s a way to do it. This is not it.

Paper wrapped shelves

It’s hard to tell in the photos, but this paper was old and hanging awkwardly. Step 2 then was to repaint!

Painting buddy

(My painting buddy :). She’s been around paint so often she knows to avoid it, after a few white painted fur incidences a while back…)

I grabbed a roller, and got to work. These shelves weren’t going to get all that much punishment, so I went with some extra paint we had lying around the house, leftovers from our walls. It’s an eggshell, but my hubby the painter recommends using a semi-gloss for shelves that will be used more frequently to avoid chipping. The glossier the paint, the more it will stand up to wear and tear (which is why painters choose it for doors and trim).

The edges are rough, but I just did my best filling the holes with paint- I didn’t bother filling them or sanding them down. I had a plan!

Uneven surface

A couple of coats later, I had these. I left them to dry overnight and sprayed them with a clear varnish to add to their durability.

Painted shelves for our linen closet

Here’s our closet with the freshly painted shelves. Looking cleaner already!

Crisp new shelves

From there, I start placing the systems we already had back in the closet. I loved our grey bins from our last home’s entry closet (the sole closet we had besides the one in our bedroom!) so I updated their chalkboard labels and put them back in.

Start organizing with bins and plastic drawers

Our bins didn’t fit on the top shelf, so I needed to think of a new solution. I repurposed some of the many boxes we had lying around post wedding to hold some extra linens we won’t be using in this home, like our shower curtain.

Recover plain cardboard boxes

They weren’t the nicest looking, so to add a little flair, I recovered the fronts (because really, who is going to see the sides?) with some good quality wrapping paper from Marshall’s.

Recover cardboard boxes with wrapping paper for storage

Recovered cardboard storage boxes

Back to the closet. Above, I mentioned that our old MDF shelves had a few holes.

Organizing our linen closet

I could have easily left well enough alone, but I wasn’t a fan. Washi tape was a perfect, and very temporary, solution!

Use washi tape to dress up old shelves

A reminder of where I started…

Linen closet before

And where I am now!

An organized rental linen closet

It makes me happy every time I open the door! With these little tweaks I even had room to add extras that were lying around our house, like the tote bags, extra comforter and Mexican blanket.

Dress up your linen closet on the cheap with washi tape, labels and recovered cardboard boxes

I added some simple Martha Stewart labels on each recovered box; honestly for practicality’s sake. I definitely wouldn’t remember what I had in those boxes without!

Organize- Dress up your linen closet on the cheap with washi tape, labels and recovered cardboard boxes

Here is a close up of a few of my systems in the works. A bin to hold rolled towels, our labelled bins (again, with Martha Steward chalkboard labels that I pasted onto cardstock) and our plastic drawers from the Container Store housing our tools (repurposed from their original spot under the bathroom sink).

Hide your linens in clean lined storage boxes

Right next you can see the door to our pantry… Another work in progress….

Organize your closet

I’m so pleased with how it turned out! Hopefully this will give me the oomph to tackle my next big organizing task… What have you been putting off that you’d like to work on?

An organized rental linen closet

Our New Home- Take a Look!

Hello again!

It’s been just over a year since I posted. I’ve since just about completed my teaching degree (two more weeks folks!), moved, and gotten married. So much to talk about! (You can expect some wedding photos soon!) Feel free to coast along to my actual home post a few paragraphs down, or stick around to see what I’ve been up to.

But before that… Why so long without a post?

I was… in a decorating rut, to be honest. I would love to blame school stealing away all my time (which it largely did), but that’s not the main culprit. I was jaded. I had really had it with our last home, but I knew I had to suck it up and bear with it for the next year. I wanted to move last summer, but with both my now husband and I going back to school to become teachers, and our wedding, moving to a nicer place wasn’t in the cards. I really worked hard to make that place the best it could be. I don’t think I could have really done more to it! My usually small decorating and DIY budget was reduced to nil (as was my shopping budget- it’s been an adjustment!) and I wasn’t feeling inspired to post.

I’m in a different place now. I have thought about blogging again for a while and I’m ready to take on the challenge. I won’t be posting a few times a week, but more a long the lines of a few times a month, probably once a week. I want to concentrate on a sustainable pace (since I’m starting to teach this year, I don’t want to take on too much, as I usually do) that centers on quality ideas and projects, rather than posting just to post.

So let’s get started! It was tough to get this first post out, since my home isn’t exactly in tip top blogging shape at the moment, but sometimes, you just need to begin.

We had been passively browsing new rentals since December. A bigger space for our dog, pet-friendly, with a yard, lots of natural light, and potential doesn’t come often, or cheap. But, in late February, we found it!

Home

It’s the top floor of the house, but happily, the downstairs tenants don’t use the yards, so we have free reign on the front and back yards. Two bedrooms, hardwood floors, character, and within our budget. I adore it!

Unfortunately, when we first moved in, I wasn’t sure if I would end up blogging again. I snapped a few poor quality photos on my iPhone just in case, so here are our official before shots. There have already been quite a few changes since these were taken in March!

When you walk in, there is an entry closet and a hallway leading to both bedrooms, the bathroom and kitchen. Don’t mind the left over furniture from the previous tenants.

Hallway before

Our bedroom, in the midst of painting (along with leftover balloons from my bridal shower), because you can bet we got on painting ASAP.

Bedroom before

From there, on the right, is our bathroom. Yikes- that red! Not my style, to say the least…

Bathroom before

Our office, mid-way through painting. This has been primed, but you can still see the BOLD orange and navy blue paint seeping through…

Office before

From our office window is a view of our patio…

Patio before

A few steps away leads into our kitchen. The vibrant yellow kitchen.

Kitchen before

Next to it, is the dining area. Apparently I don’t have any shots of this space without Shaun in them!

Dining area before

Into the living room, with a fireplace!

Living room before

And back to the entrance, mid-way through painting.

Hallway painting

And the fun part- updates!

We (well me) chose a soft grey that reads light grey blue in our home. I love it. Now when you come into our home, you see our updated entrance dresser and mail sorter. Don’t mind the door leaning against the wall… I have big plans!

Hallway progress

Rug: Winners, dresser: thrifted, pulls: Target, mirror: Winners

People always mention how much of a difference paint makes, but really… Such a difference! The best way to personalize your rental, if you’re allowed. It makes it feel like our own home, rather than moving into a blank impersonal space.

Bathroom progress

I had to include the above the door storage in here, even if we have far more than we used to.

Bathroom shelfBathroom progress bath

Shelf: thrifted, bathmat: IKEA

This is my favourite photo of the bunch. The greenery, of course, makes an enormous difference in itself! I still have many plans for the space, but I already love it.

Patio progress

Patio furniture: Craigslist, no-sew placemats, Dishes: West Elm, Flowers from our garden!

I couldn’t believe how much I preferred our kitchen now that it’s no longer yellow! We got a bonus too when we moved in: our landlord surprised us with new tile. Lino no more!

Kitchen progress

Mugs: Anthropologie, Apartment Cleaning Checklist

Our kitchen progress

Our dining area… Still a work in progress, but I love our restored credenza.

Dining room progress

And finally, our living area. It’s coming along, but I have many plans!

Living room progress

Couches: Craigslist, Chairs, IKEA and recovered, Rug: Restore It, Coffee table: Target, Pillows: recovered

So there you have it! I am just brimming with new plans and ideas for our rental home. There is so much potential here! Check back at the beginning of each week for organizing, DIY and decorating ideas (along with a few post wedding posts!). I’m thrilled to have you!

How to Make a Wedding Pennant Banner (No Sewing Required!)

Hi there!

Thanks for all the lovely comments on last week’s engagement photo post. I really appreciate it! Following along with the wedding trend, I wanted to share my latest DIY: our wedding pennant banner!

Originally, I was thinking I would sew a pennant banner for our treat table, kind of like this inspiration shot:

{source}

But then I decided to sew table runners (stay tuned!), make signs, cake stands… and I thought about how difficult it would be to find coordinated and beautiful fabric… and realized sewing pennant banners was not for me.

Instead, saving myself a ton of time, money and effort, I went with paper. Tons more appealing options and much simpler!

Sweet treats wedding pennant banner

I spent ages pouring over different papers in Michael’s to find ones in our colour scheme that worked together, but nothing really flowed the way I wanted to. In the end, I decided to go for a pre-made pack.

{source}

If you’re able to find a pack in your colour scheme, go for it! It’s much easier to coordinate pages that were already designed to work well together. My colours are pale pink, grey and minty soft green.

This particular set is smaller than regular cardstock at 6″ long, so all I needed to do was trim off the sides to make triangles using my scrapbook slicer (but really, scissors would work just as well, they’re just more time consuming.)

Make a pennant banner

From there, I free handed letters to make my sign. If you feel less than comfortable with writing your own, it would be easy to print off your computer at home too. I lined them up using a pencil,

Use a pencil to line up your letters

hole punched my triangles and strung them together.

Hole punch and hang your banner with string

The whole project was finished in an evening, and I’m really happy with how it turned out!

Sweet treats

 

TreatsSweetWedding pennant banner

Sweet treats wedding pennant banner

For only a few hours and a $7 pack of cardstock, it was a win-win! I’ll be hanging it off our little homemade treat table at the reception :).

Have you taken any DIY shortcuts lately?

Our (Deliriously) Happy Engagement Photos

So I know the premise of my blog is specifically home and DIY based, but sometimes I can’t help but share some personal posts too. After seeing my engagement photos, I knew this would be one of those times!

Dancing engagement shoot

I wanted engagement photos, but a part of me worried that they would feel fake, or forced, or were just plain vain. I mean really, you are asking a professional photographer to come and take photos of yourself, and you’re paying good money for it! A tad bit self-involved, I have to say. Regardless, I tried it anyway.

I was nervous going into it. I literally went to two different hairstylists, rushing before our appointment because I wanted my hair to look photograph-worthy! (That’s the thing that makes me vain, isn’t it? Worse than the photos, isn’t it? Oops.) To be fair, I stupidly decided to go to a hair styling school to save money, only to spend an hour and a half on hair I could have styled better myself. Ugh. Live and learn.

As much as I rushed around the day of, it was honestly one of the most fun dates ever.

Sunset engagement photos

I remember when taking a beginner psych class in university they told us just how powerful locking eyes with someone else can be. They experimented with total strangers, asking them to do nothing but look at one another for 3 minutes without any interruption or chatter. Every time, they had positive feelings for the other person, regardless of knowing nothing about them.

Golden hours

Now imagine you’re doing that all evening with the love of your life, celebrating your upcoming marriage together. Let me tell you, it is crazy romantic.

Love

And thankfully, despite my apprehensions, on top of how great the day was, I’m thrilled with how they turned out!

We chose spots that were meaningful for us, like the park Shaun proposed in or the walkway close to our house, along the water where we take our puppy for walks. It was special, and helped put us at ease.

Pretty park engagement shoot

 

I wanted to choose someone with a style I loved, with beautiful brilliant colours, and whom I clicked with. I was so happy to find Brandie! If you’re looking for a photographer in Vancouver BC, I highly recommend her. (No, I she’s not endorsing me. I just like to share great finds when I stumble upon them.)

Engagement shoot with gorgeous colours!

I especially love the colours. Golden hour is popular for a reason and I plan on stealing away from our wedding for a few too.

Engagement shoot with sunset city background

(The colours in our second outfit somehow ended up matching the background perfectly. Not planned, at least on our part!)

Gorgeous colours

 

I was really set on a spring wedding, but school plans got in the way. I settled for a spring engagement shoot, complete with cherry blossom trees in the background.

 

Cherry blossom tree

For fun, we had Bali in a few too.

Berner love engagement shoot Puppy love

 

Had to get a few with the ring…

 

Lauren and Shaun

I tell you, so. much. fun. I felt so in love and smiling like a goof in most of my choices!

Lauren and Shaun engagement shoot

 

I recommend browsing Pinterest before going. I realized I prefer photos that are more candid and in motion than posed options, and those photos are my favourites by far.

 

Love this engagement pose!

 

I would also say that two outfits are totally worth it. I like the dress, but I’m surprised at home much I might even prefer the more casual regular look. You might feel silly changing, but I’m thankful I had both options.

Fun engagement shoot

Beautiful sunset engagement shot

(I had NO IDEA these were going to turn out so cool! Sunsets I tell you. And photographers who are clearly much more knowledgeable than my amateur experience.)

Vancouver harbour engagement photo

 

Engagement photo Gorgeous colours!

Every time I see them, they make me happy. Now I don’t look at it as vain, but that we were lucky to be able to capture such a happy time on camera.

To see Brandie’s post, or to check out her other work, check out her blog!

 

 

 

A Happy Hello in our Entry

Hi there readers! After a great weekend of staining, drilling, oiling and reorganizing, our made-over dresser is ready to share. This was one of those awesome times where my wonderful fiancé Shaun helped me pull it all together. I am getting pretty into those stay-home-and-DIY-together-dates, let me tell you (though I’m not sure he’d say the same…)

When we left off on Wednesday, I showed you the inspiration image for where I wanted to take our entry space.

Entry inspiration with pulls

Armed with my colour scheme vision, I got to work and dragged my dresser outside for a makeover. (Sorry about the exposure. I was bound and determined to get it stained and I wasn’t about to wait for the sun to cooperate with my photo opp.)

Dresser makeover before

This dresser was cheap to begin with, the extent to which I only discovered when I actually took to staining it. The drawer fronts and top are real wood, but the rest is the cheapest possible option: wood panel sides, particle board drawers, no sliders… Even the bottom curved piece in the front is, what I just discovered, plywood! Sheesh.

It has had its far share of hard times too, and it showed. Stained, damaged…

Entry Dresser makeover before

Or just straight up chewed by one bored little big puppy.

Puppy problems

To get rid of the damage, I sanded it down with some light grit sandpaper.

Sand prior to staining

Here it is with its first coat of the Varathene Espresso Stain I got from Home Depot.

First coat

I gave it another two coats (three total) with a rag and a Q-tip to get into the crevices.

I was recommended protecting it with a clear varnish, but let’s be honest, I was cheap and lazy and opted out of it. It was a cheap piece to begin with, so I wasn’t terribly particular. That being said, it needed something because once it dried it still looked rather dull and dry. I LOVED my Feed-N-Wax on other wood pieces in the past so I decided to give it a go. Worth it!

Why you should wax your wood furniture Why you need to wax your furniture

After oiling it up, Shaun took over to swap the hardware from those ugly wood knobs to crisp, modern, silver half-moon pulls. I admittedly could have handled this section too, but he’s just so much better suited to lining them up properly before drilling. (We really do have perfectly lined up and level shelves and hung prints).

Drilling for new hardware

Clearly was a good choice.

DIY an upcycled dresser

Just LOOK at how much better the top of the dresser looks compared to how it did before.

Entry Dresser makeover before

How much better is that?!

Polished dresser

Enough of the finish, let’s look at the big picture!

Furniture makeover a brand new dresser

I wasn’t so sure about the chevron wall, but clearly, such a bold choice (bold for me anyway) needed some dark pieces to ground it. I just find it handsome, somehow. All the turquoise and feminine prints needed more masculine touches, like the dresser and my ikea rug.

Ikea Soften Rug

Because I’m sure lots of you like before and afters as much as me, here’s how our space was looking just after we painted the accent wall…

Entry as a blank slate

To the inspiration image...

Entry inspiration

To now. How close did that stain come out to the dresser I was admiring?

Furniture makeover entry dresser

I’m thrilled with the results. It was worth waiting to really decide what I needed to do with it. I still of course need to find a real mirror for the space (this one is stolen from the kitchen) but it will have a very similar vibe.

And just for fuuun (And Russell Peters fans? Only a Canadian thing?), here’s a true before and after. I made the changes, but even I’m struck by how different it looks, and much changes you can make in a rental space!

Our cozy aparment entry makeover

I’m so much happier every time I look at our entry way! (Which is a lot, considering how small our place is.) It gives the first impression and I am so much more proud of my home with this cheap but effective update!

(I literally spent 8 bucks on the stain. That’s it, I even had the pulls stashed away from last summer for a project like this!)

)I’m looking forward to hosting my friends for lunch this Saturday with my inviting little entry way.

Cute apartment entry

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy the summer day :)

Use PicMonkey to Re-Imagine Your Space

Mini-bonus post today!

The moment we scored this little dresser full of storage, I knew it needed an update. Super practical, but hardly pretty.

Fast forward a few months, and I added a blue chevron wall. Why chevron? Nothing to do with our home. I just found a photo I liked on Pinterest and wanted to recreate it. Why blue? Honestly, I just had some left over paint from our hutch and thought I’d try it.

It is very unlike me to just wing it like that, especially on a project that was so much work. In retrospect, I would prefer a much much lighter blue, or even a neutral grey. That is BLUE. Note to self (and to you!): Base paint choices around pieces you already plan to use on the space. It’s much easier to find a paint colour that works with your furniture and fabric than it is to find furniture that works with your paint colour!

Thankfully though, it did felt like an improvement. As to where to go from here… I was COMPLETELY lost. (And in my Home Tour, the above photo remains.)

So I sat with it for a while. Then, I tried adding a new mirror (I stole this one from our kitchen) and a rug, but it still felt… off.

I liked the rug (in real life it’s more grey than the dark charcoal/black you see here), but as much as I like gold in other homes, this mirror just seemed to bring out the yellow in the pine and even clashed with the blue.

I figured if I stained it, the mirror would work. I tried a number of different options (the inside of the door fronts have more than few tints to them!) but nothing stuck.

But then…

I had a marvellous idea!

I’ve often seen other bloggers use Photoshop to “preview” how a certain colour would look in their space, or a piece of furniture. I never thought I’d be able to, seeing as I don’t own the program, but I realized I could easily make something happen with PicMonkey!

To decide which stain to use, I made a Mood Board Style Preview of the change. (It’s simple but effective!) Here’s how.

1. Choose an existing photo of your space and open it in the Edit a photo tab. I needed to get out my rut. To start fresh, I opted for a photo without any of the above accessories. Stripped down to the basics.

Entry as a blank slate

 

2. Find inspiration online. I went to one of my fav inspiration stores, Crate and Barrel, and found a few similar shaped dressers in various shades. Here are a couple I liked.

dresser possibilities 1 dresser possibilities 3

 

{source} {source}

3. Crop them to leave as little white as possible. You can open a new window and use PicMonkey again for this step, or you can just use your basic editing software that’s available on your computer. Or, if you have a Mac and are Pages-savvy, get rid of the white altogether. Save it as a separate file.

4. Add them to your picture. Using the Overlay tool on the left hand tool bar (it’s the butterfly image) click “Your Own” and upload the saved file from step 3. Scale it to size.

Here’s what I ended up choosing;

Entry inspiration

I used the back side of this dresser, a photo of my rug from Ikea’s website, and used a previous photo of the black mirror as a possible accessory. Perfect! Apparently, I needed a cool undertone to my stain. I would never have chosen that without seeing this first!

I also added some pulls for fun to see how they would work with the colour scheme I pulled together.

Entry inspiration with pulls

Is it realistic? Not at all. In fact, it looks a more than a little strange. Doesn’t matter! I found it so so helpful to imagine where to go next. I’m working on staining as we speak so make sure to check back this weekend for the full before and after!

Would you ever use this little trick for your space? How do you make decisions before pulling the trigger?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balancing Out Our Dining Nook

Hi all! To all my Canadian readers, I hope you’re enjoying a possible long weekend with Canada Day just around the corner!

I wanted to stop in today with to share our latest update in the kitchen. When I last shared our kitchen, it looked like this:

I was loving the accent wall, the shelves, the extra storage and the mirror, but it didn’t quite feel complete. I had decided to centre the mirror so that it would reflect the greenery outside. I find this especially helpful since ours is a plain basic apartment with windows only on the far wall, meaning this little nook is only lit by artificial light, regardless of the time of day. I needed all the natural light and bits of the outdoors I could get!

The only issue with this is that it felt a tad off balance. When I scored a narrow white bookcase as a hand-me-down, I was thrilled. Perfect fit!

Cute apartment dining area

It adds some much needed storage (it especially takes the visual weight off our heavy robin’s egg blue hutch) and balance to the dining area. It was easy to style (much simpler than last week’s floating shelves) since these were narrow shelves, very similar to an Ikea expedit.

As much as I always preferred storing books behind closed doors, I’m glad Shaun pushed to have some on display. They add a nice bit of personality, and they really reflect us (like my Le Robert dictionary and his Watership Down).

Colour blocked books

 

 

I adore this little owl. Impulse purchase from West Elm and it was totally worth it. I think he belongs alongside the books.

Library owl

To make use of the top, I also added some simple white boxes (these ones were from Ikea I believe) to store our DVD’s. Unlike books, DVD’s can never be attractive, in my opinion.

I organized them by genre and added a quick chalkboard label (from Staples Martha Stewart line) to remember which ones are which. So much cleaner than having a pile of DVD’s on top of the bookcase!

Concealed DVD storage Clean and cute DVD storage Dining room bookshelf

I also added a removable hook to the side to hang up our aprons. (As a bonus, it also helps to conceal our mini battery powered vacuum! I love having it in the kitchen: easy access for quick day to day clean up.)

Sorry about the blurry “before”:

 

Hide your battery powered mini vacuum in the kitchen for quick clean upRemovable hook

Hidden vacuum

I haven’t quite decided how to fill the bottom cupboard, as it doesn’t have any shelves. It could be a good spot for dog food, but that would require an a new tall and narrow container…  Maybe a mini pantry type storage? Or maybe it will just fit Shaun’s umpire equipment in it (because clearly, everyone needs umpire equipment..?) For now, I’m just happy knowing I have a bonus bit of unused storage space!

Personalized apartment dining room

Let’s take a look back to where it was when we started, shall we?

Kitchen before

And a few months after we moved in…

And now!

Cute apartment dining area

Sometimes I forget just how different our space looked like back in April 2013. And these things are all projects you can easily remove and some even can be taken when you move, especially if your landlord is ok with having you paint.

Renter dining room

Happy weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Survivor: Styling Floating Shelves

I love love love the look of floating shelves. They can add so much style and personality to a space. However, pulling off a look that is “you” without looking messy or too overdone is much easier said than done, at least for me!

Ever since I bought our credenza (over a year ago, yikes!) I wanted to add some sort of interest around it, because, all you saw before was TV TV TV.

I got some shelves a number of months ago, but it’s taken me a while to collect and tweak until I found something I liked! Continue reading to see what I learned along the way.

A Beginner's Guide to Styling Shelves

First up, I got two basic black Ikea Lack shelves and mounted them on the wall. (For their instructions, check out this link).

Ikea floating shelves

To start with, I already knew a few guidelines to keep in mind.

3 simple steps to stylish shelves

1. Stick to a colour scheme. As much as some people can pull of that eclectic colourful vibe, that is certainly not me! To keep your shelves looking tidy, especially for beginners, I stand by a colour scheme. I realize this may make me look a tad obsessive, but hey, gotta do what makes you happy!

Mine actually came up by chance: white, black, green with a bit of blue thrown in. I do have other books, but they’ve since found a new home in the kitchen (stay posted!). As soon as I added my plants, I realized our photobook back along with my green vase was perfect, so I went with it.

Which leads me to number two.

2. Add different textures. Stylists say this all the same but it makes such a difference! And once I realized plants are considered another texture? I’ll never go back!

In this vignette I have the glass candle holders and lantern, the silver frame, the smooth ceramics, the plants and the more matte textures of the books and chalkboard pot.

3. Vary heights and sizes. This is KEY for shelves. I have round shapes in the tea light holders and vases, sharp square shapes in the frames and lantern and everything varies in height to keep the eye moving.

My last tip for beginners:

4. Give it time. I had these shelves for a while before I found something that worked and that I liked. I know some bloggers manage to style shelves in an afternoon (Sherry, much?) but between my lack of experience and lack of accessories on hand (read: lack of funds), this took me a while. Be open to tweaks!

Even yesterday, it took me a few tries before I settled on something I liked.

Styled shelves 1st try

2nd try

By changing just the frames (and later, moving the bottom plant to the left of the books), the whole thing felt more balanced and purposeful.

As a little side project, I decided to paint a terracotta pot. I love the look of ceramic pots, but I really need to be saving as much as I can. This pot came in at an easy $1.50!

Chalkboard painted pot tolls

I had some leftover chalkboard paint from another project so I gave it one quick coat outside yesterday afternoon.

One coat is all you need

Super quick and easy, and I was able to add a cheeky little message in chalk. (Because let me tell you, if ever you want a plant that thrives on neglect in an apartment with little light, this is the one!!)

I'm a survivor plant pot

Here’s the wall before:

Living room before

And after in progress:

Styled floating shelves

Styled bookshelves

I’ll be sure to show the full length of the wall soon… Promise! For now, I have to share just how happy I am with how my little shelves look at night with my candles lit.

Candlelit shelves

Love is a many splendid thing    How to style a floating shelf

I'm a survivor plant pot

 

Well worth the wait! What tips can you use to tweak your shelves at home, right now?

Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m glad to have had some time off from blogging because I am feeling oh so inspired to share my latest projects!