Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Ikea Frame of Mind

Last year I bought a bunch of frames at Ikea to display some photos I have. I didn't realize until I got home that...
  1. Ikea mats are off white
  2. Ikea frames have European sizing

I never even considered getting new mats for them until I read this on Little House Blog. Lindsay is a smart woman - she even had a link on her twitter page to a 25% coupon at Deserres, so I promptly printed off that bad boy and headed over to the store to pick up my own mat cutter and a couple of mats.

I spent most of Friday night reading the instructions and setting about cutting my first (and second and third) mats. The first one pretty much took me forever, and then I cut the second and third one with no issues. I got Kevin to take photos as I went along because it was easy enough for him to take shots sporadically as he was watching TV :-) Here's my process, folks!

Measure the Ikea mat as a basis to draw the outside border for the new mat

Use the ruler and utility knife to cut the outside border to size

Admire your first cut. What?.. It's an important step!

Make sure the new mat fits into the frame

Do some quick (or not so quick... math's not for everyone) calculations to figure out where the horizontal and vertical middle are of the mat and photo

Draw a cross section on the back of the mat and back of the photo. Line the photo up on the back of the mat, mark the corners of the photo, and then cut the mat 0.5cm shorter than the photo edge on each inner border so that the mat overlaps the photo a little bit on each side. 

Cutting my first inside edge with the bevel edge tool

Almost done...

DISAPPOINTMENT! And here's why...

Crap! This edge (the side closest to the lamp in the photo above) wouldn't cut all the way through, so I went over it a couple of time and it came out choppy. Kevin suggested I just cut that edge a couple millimetres wider - smart man! One edge is slightly narrower than the other now, but the cut is smooth so I'm a happy girl

So, remember waaaay back at the beginning of this post when I said there are two issues with Ikea frames? It's ok if you can't. Here's a refresher and some photos to go along with it!
1. Ikea mats are off white. Boy oh boy are they ever! Check out this side by side comparison:

2. Ikea frames have European sizing. Here is the Ikea mat sitting on top of the mat I cut. The mat is supposed to overlap the photo on all sides, but Ikea's wasn't even touching the edge of my photo. 

Here is my finished product! I am SO happy with the results. Some quick facts: The photo is 8"x10", the mat outside edge is 11 3/4" x 15 3/4

What do you think?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bathroom Inspiration

Whenever I come across inspiring home images I like to save them. Magazine pages get dog-eared or just straight up torn out; web images get saved in a folder (although I've recently been introduced to Pinterest and will be testing that out). If you looked at my collection of inspirational pictures I don't think you'd be able to summarize my style of decor into one category... except when it comes to bathrooms. All the pictures I like look the same!

  • Light coloured tile floors 
  • Double marble vanity (ideally) with under mounted sinks
  • Light, neutral colour palette
  • Some glossy, sparkly, reflective, shiny elements (lighting fixtures, mirror, faucets, hardware, etc)

I recently read an article on Apartment Therapy, titled 5 Qualities of Luxurious Bathrooms, which were space, light, texture, materials, and detail. Some of the points that resonated with me, as a renter, were:

  • Create the appearance of more space by removing visual clutter, choosing a monochromatic color palette, and using a few additional luxurious qualities.
  • Like space, light is a commodity that can be in short supply, and its abundance in the bathroom is a luxury. If you're lucky enough to have large windows and no close neighbors, consider going bare.  
  • Something as simple as a tray with a candle, a book and some tea, a chandelier or pretty decorative storage can elevate a space.

Here are a few bathrooms from my inspiration folder...

I love this vanity (although I wish it had an undermounted sink..) and the mix of tile on the walls. 

The floor tiles are ceramic hex and the wall tiles are Carrara subway tiles. Very classic look. The chandelier is unexpected and adds a lil' glamour to the place. 

I love the contrast between the dark paint and light wainscoting. The polished faucets, marble counter and tray in the middle are all nice touches.

I love how light and airy this bathroom is! I see at least 2 windows here, so that definitely helps to achieve that feeling. The wall and floor tiles are gorgeous, as is the counter. And notice that they have a tray on the vanity as well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flower Power

May has been so blaaaaaah and I was feeling under the weather a few days ago, so Kevin and I headed over to a garden centre so I could get some fresh air and pick up a couple of potted plants. I prefer potted over cut when it comes to flowers because they (usually) last longer. It was this pair of 4" Osteospermums that caught my eye so I picked 'em up and brought 'em home. They remind me of daisies :-) 

I have to keep all of my greenery out of Riley's reach because that little sneak will eat them otherwise! I have them sitting on top of a tall bookshelf in the living room where they're enjoying the (lack of) sun and I'm enjoying their colour. 

Have a great weekend!

Cat Lady

I know most women fear becoming a cat lady, but not me. Honestly, if it weren't for all the poop, I'd pretty much be like Ace Ventura with his household of pets. Riley is my one and only pet (so far!) and since I've already had a couple of Riley-related posts, I thought I'd post an up-to-date picture so you know what my little Turkish delight* looks like. Kevin vehemently denies loving her, but he has been regularly spotted giving her cuddles and feeding her treats (that he keeps in his pocket!). That's love, baby!

*My friend, Sara, went on her honeymoon in Turkey and was compelled to email me a photo when she and her husband spotted a Riley doppelganger, hence my nickname for her.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

I bought an interesting looking cabinet from Craigslist a few weeks ago with the goal of refinishing it. My first attempt (although honestly, I didn't think I'd need more than one attempt...) didn't exactly go as planned. I've only spray painted the lattice door so far, but unfortunately the paint didn't dry well at all! I didn't use primer before painting it and I think that was the issue. I spent about an hour yesterday sanding the door back down smooth and I'm gonna start again with a coat of primer or two before I start painting.

Once the cabinet is done, I'll post up some before and after pics and explain my process, mistakes included!

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Riley's Bathroom Update

When I first adopted Riley, I bought her a kitty litter "house". It has a enclosed lid with a flap door. It gives her a bit of privacy (not that she cares, I'm sure) and it keeps potential odours at bay. I chose the litter "house" in red because it's my favourite colour, but I've grown tired of it. As I was in the midst of painting our bathroom, I thought I'd quickly give hers an update as well.

The top is gray, so I just left it as is. I took off the bottom and quickly sanded it before giving it a coat of spray primer. I very lightly sanded the surface after the primer dried, and then sprayed a coat of white glossy paint. I lightly sanded after that coat too, and then sprayed 2 more coats of white. I didn't paint the inside because 1. it's not visible and 2. I don't want to risk Riley ingesting the paint.

Here are the pics:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Refreshed Window Frame

Projects lead to more projects, renovations lead to more renovations. After painting the medicine cabinet, I decided to paint the window frame. I knew it would really brighten up the place if they were both white. And now that I've painted the frame, I want to paint the rest of the trim and the door in there too!

Currently the trim and door are the same colour as the "before" picture of the window frame, which is just a yucky beigey-green colour. Seriously, that was the colour of ALL of the trim in our apartment when we moved in... The living room and bedroom now have white trim (done some time last year) and the bathroom is next on my hit list.

Before painting, I sanded down the frame. Some areas were really rough so I had to sand them quite a bit so the finish would be smooth after painting. After sanding, I wiped down the whole frame with a damp cloth. I also cleaned the rails that the window slides on and the windows themselves. To clean the rails I mixed 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and added a few drops of dish detergent. I poured a bit of the water straight onto the rails, used a bunch of Q-tips to scrub the dirt free, and then used the cloth to wipe up the water. Note: don't use a nice cloth because it will get DIRRRRTY.

Once everything was all nice and clean, I was ready to start painting. I painted three coats of semi-gloss paint in a colour called White High Hiding. Here are some before and after shots:

My friend, Gary, said the before and after picture of the medicine cabinet "look exactly the same"... so hopefully he thinks these before and after shots are more satisfactory :-P

And here's a painful "after" shot of my finger.. I pinched it when I put the lid back on the paint can and gave myself a blood blister :(

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Grout Scrubbing Time

While I'm not a particularly tidy person, I love me a clean bathroom!  Whenever my boyfriend or I start using a new toothbrush, I know exactly what my plans are for the old one.

Deep. Clean. The. Grout.

I'm not sure how often grout is supposed to be deep cleaned, but only two corners get visibly dirty and they seem to stay clean enough if I do it every time one of us replaces a toothbrush.

These are the two gross corners. Interestingly, the rest of grout remains remarkably white That being said.... these corners have been looking quite ahem... NASTY as of late. Case in point:

Oh the horror...

Baking soda and lemon (and the ol' toothbrush) to the rescue!

If you've never used baking soda and lemon/vinegar to clean before, pleeeease try it. You'll be amazed!
Here's how I did it:
  • 1/8 cup of baking soda
  • 1 lemon (cut in half)
  • 1 old toothbrush
  1. Dip the toothbrush in the baking soda
  2. Rub the lemon half on the wall so it gets wet with lemon juice
  3. Scrub away with the baking soda-covered toothbrush in the areas you just wet with the lemon juice.
You'll see a nice fizzy action going on! The baking soda is abrasive so it really gets the dirt out and lemon leaves a very nice scent. Above all, you don't have to worry about any of this:

I kid you not, a few years ago my mom nearly passed out when she accidentally made mustard gas while cleaning the bathroom by mixing ammonia and bleach. Harsh cleaners just aren't worth the risk when products around the house do an amazing job. Lemon and baking soda also works very well at getting the bathroom fixtures all shiny!

 Here are some before and after pics of the bathtub corners:

Take that grout!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Everyone Ought To Know When Buying A Home


And I'm not just talking about the price here, folks. 

We went to go visit some friends of ours who recently bought a house an hour north of us - about 40 minutes outside of Toronto. The person they bought the house from paid for beautiful upgrades and got a lot of furniture custom built for the house. Since these friends were moving up in house size and loved the furniture the seller had made, they negotiated a lot of it into their buyer's agreement. The seller already had another place in the city that he was occupying, so he was motivated to sell.

Check out some pictures from the property listing:

The foyer is so high-impact! It's got a two-story-high ceiling and a little balcony on the second floor that overlooks it.

Here is the balcony that overlooks the foyer

If these cabinets were white, I probably never would've left their house and just stared at the kitchen dreamily for the rest of my life :-) 

And I love that the kitchen dining area opens up into the backyard and gazebo! Perfect for summer parties... if it ever stops raining....grrrr

Seriously, the master ensuite was probably the same size as our apartment......

I love the double vanity and the natural light in the bathroom.

A large landing area that would be perfect for an office

These guys were very smart to negotiate in so many furnishings. It made the transition into their new house a lot easier and they were able to sell off all of their old furniture! Bi-winning!

A home like this seems about 3 moves, 4 raises, and 2 kids away for me... but a girl can dream, can't she?
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