Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If I Were the Landlord Series - Part 4

Our house is divided into two units - first floor and second floor - and we share the same entrance. We have an exterior porch door, and interior porch door, then a shared hallway, and finally there are two doors side-by-side that lead to the two units. Our door opens directly to a flight of stairs because we're on the second floor.

The issue here is the interior porch door. The porch is very bright (it's on the east side of the house and has wall-to-wall windows facing west, north and east), but as soon as the interior door is closed, the hallway turns into a black hole. The interior door has a small crescent window at the top, but it doesn't let in nearly enough light.

Consequently, every time Kevin or I come home, we have to turn on the light, and I know the light shines into this bedroom (our landlord's bedroom has two doors - 1 in his unit and 1 that leads into the hall - he doesn't use the hallway door), but the alternative is to stumble around in the dark and wake him up with all the noise... it's a lose-lose (for him).

If I were him, I would've installed a door that was at least half-glass. It would have let in a lot more light and it's much more appealing visually. It also would've allowed us to see who was at the door when we opened it. Even if the glass were frosted we would've been able to tell who it was by the blurry outline. Consequently, I never opened the door unless I knew for sure who was on the other side. Call me paranoid, but I didn't want to take any chances!

Aren't these doors gorgeous? Also, this is why I love Pinterest. Search for "glass front door" and you're instantly taken to gorgeous entryways.
1) via 2) via 3) via 4) via
p.s. I haven't posted in a few days because I've been very busy with the move! I'll post on that later :-)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dan Marentic's Canadian House & Home Tour

I saw this condo tour on H&H OnlineTV and just had to share it because it is spectacular! 

Dan Marentic is an interior design consultant for Ctrl/Alt/Delete. He lives in a one bedroom, one bathroom 565 square foot "soft loft" condo. I love the way he altered some of the standard finishes of his unit to give his space a unique high-end look. These are the kinds of tours I like to see because they inspire me on how to upgrade my future condo.

Some of my highlights include:
  • The floors - they are gorgeous
  • The strip of tile he took out in the shower and replaced with marble to give a custom-look
  • The storage along the head of the bed with built-in bedside tables. He used store bought closets and gave them custom doors for a high-end look
  • He had a straight line kitchen but added extra cabinetry up top and perpendicularly to create an L-shaped kitchen
  • The custom counter-high table that can be used as extra prep space and a dining table
  • The ethanol fireplace in the living room, which has a cutout on the back so it can be enjoyed in the bedroom as well. 
  • The sofa sectional is gorgeous and is large enough that it can function as a sleeping area for overnight guests.
  • The way the balcony is set up with a dining area and 2 chairs overlooking the view.

Check out the tour HERE.

And just so I don't have a picture-less post, here's the Emily-Jane Bisectional from Style Garage :-)

Does anyone have $3000 to spare?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I Were The Landlord Series - Part 3

I'm a woman who loves her bathroom products, but our bathroom medicine cabinet isn't spacious. We have a small wall-mounted one and I'm constantly trying to reconfigure it to fit all my products. I bought a free-standing medicine cabinet that stands behind the toilet so I could have extra space, but having 2 medicine cabinets jutting out from the wall made the bathroom look smaller.  Also, because our lighting fixture is directly above the medicine cabinet, the light is blocked by the cabinet and doesn't shine down onto the vanity area very well... and good lighting is key for makeup application!

If I were my landlord, I would install a much bigger medicine cabinet in the wall between the studs so that it lays flush with the wall. That way it wouldn't impede with the lights at all and future tenants could store more bathroom goodies. I absolutely l.o.v.e the bathroom in image #1 and the cabinet here is what I consider the perfect size for a single sink. And the paint choice and light fixture location in #2 look very similar to that of my apartment.  
#1 via; #2 via; #3 via; #4 via

Totally random and off-topic, but I really love beadboard in bathrooms :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Condo Shopping with Michelle

Michelle recently got a permanent full-time job (congrats!) and as such, has been keenly researching condos so she can move out of my parents' house. Michelle's a librarian so she's an extremely thorough researcher - she's got a spread sheet of condo prices, payment structures with varying interest rates, etc. This weekend, my mom and I went with her to various condo sales offices. A couple of them were busts because they were sold out (but didn't say so on their websites...), but we got some very helpful information at the Fuse Condos sales office. We were actually looking for the Upside Down condos sales office, but stumbled in to the Fuse office and decided to check it out. Turns out Upside Down condos is the same builder so we were in the right sales office all along. 

I like checking out how the condo model suites are staged because they always use reflective or glass elements, along with smaller scale furniture to make the rooms appear larger.

Here was the floor plan of the model suite they had in the sales office. It's 794 square feet with a 116 square foot balcony, and as you can see it's a 2-bedroom unit. All the finishes in the unit are standard.
I took pictures of the common areas, the master bedroom and master bathroom.

Here's the kitchen and dining area. The table was small, but nicely set up. The kitchen looked  good, but obviously if you've seen any kitchens I like (such as here or here), you know I love white cabinets. My mom and I both agreed that white cabinets would've been the right way to go here because it really would've brightened up the space. 
 This nook is cute! It reminds me of the nook in my current apartment, where we have our desk and wine rack. These mirrors remind me of the mirrors I got from BB Bargoons. This image is definitely going in my inspiration folder!

I wasn't a fan of the furniture or colour in the living room, but I like that the coffee and side tables have mirrored tops. It's a great way to bring light in to a room.  

The bedroom was very well sized for a condo - something like 10x12sq ft. I like the furniture, but again, not a fan of the colours...

The bathroom was nice. Soaker tubs are pretty standard now with new builds, which is pretty awesome.

Have you seen any nice condo model suites lately? I'll pass on any suggestions to Michelle. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

If I Were The Landlord Series - Part 2

This apartment has 1 window in each room and they're all  very decent sizes. The bedroom and bathroom windows face west so we get a lot of evening light in those rooms, especially in the winter when the leaves have fallen from the huge tree in our neighbour's yard. The living room has a HUGE east facing window, which brings in fantastic light in the morning. This room is where all my plants die live. But the kitchen. Oh the kitchen. This window has the most ideal orientation - south! There's just one problem, about 3 feet in front of our kitchen is our neighbour's house so all we see from that window is green siding. What a waste! 

There are so many issues with this window:
  1. The view sucks
  2. It always seems like night in the kitchen because this window lets in NO light
  3. Our neighbours have a window, that if you were to draw a straight line from their window through to our window, it would lead straight into our fridge. I'm pretty much always walking around in my skivvies in the morning while I'm eating breakfast or making lunch and cringe every time the fridge door light shines on me when I open it. Those guys are either going to celebrate or be very sad when I'm gone in a week... 
Kevin's mom gave us a baker's rack (fantastic gift!) that we use to store our microwave, toaster, cookbooks, etc. For the longest time, we hesitated in putting it where we wanted (in front of the window!) because we didn't want to block what very little light came through. We had it on the wall to the left of the fridge and had our kitchen table in front of this window, but it was really close to the oven this way. Last year, Kerry and her boyfriend, Aaron stayed with us. I was making them pancakes and left the room for a minute. I came back to find Aaron flipping his own pancakes...while seated at the table!! LOL At that moment, I was like, "To hell with this window!" and we moved the baker's rack to the window and the kitchen table to the wall.

While this new arrangement made things in our apartment flow a lot better, I was still very unhappy with the lack of light in our apartment. Especially because the kitchen is the first room you walk into upon entering our place. I always used to think, "Wouldn't this room be so much brighter with a sky light?" Our landlord put in pot lights when he renovated this room, but a skylight would've made so much more sense! Especially if it was one that could open to let hot air escape. We literally always have the lights on in the kitchen so a skylight would've saved a lot of electricity and if it opened, we'd be able to let the hot air escape in the summer. It feels like a furnace in here if I dare turn on the stove in the summer months. 

Since I'm a friendly tenant and chat up all my neighbours, one of our neighbours, Pam, invited me to her house one day to check on the renovations she had done. Her house is semi-detached and ours is detached, but they're mirror images of each other. Guess what she had upstairs in her tenant's kitchen? A SKY LIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn't believe it. It was amazing. It was so BRIGHT. She was in the middle of redoing the floors so the place wasn't looking how it normally does, but I was blown away by how much better that room looked with some natural light coming in. I took some pictures :-) They're not the best, but it'll give you some idea of what we're missing.  

This photo was taken at about 4:30pm. This room is a mirror image of our kitchen; the window to the left is the same one that I took a picture of above. See how much BRIGHTER her kitchen is? I'm so jealous. Pam says the skylight is what sold her on the house when she was buying it!

If I were the landlord, I would definitely have put in a sky light - one that can open. It would cost a bit up front, but I really think it would be a great investment. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's Official: The House is on the Market

This is what I came home to yesterday. And a text from my landlord saying he's holding an open house this weekend. I photoshopped out some of the For Sale sign details. I hate that we have to find another place to live before we move to the condo! The whole situation really frustrates me. He asked me last year if we planned on staying on because he was wanted to know if he'd have to find new tenants and I told him we would definitely stay here until the condo was done. Think less of me all you want, but I'm feeling bitter and vengeful right now and I'm hoping this house takes months to sell. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Canadian House & Home - September Roundup

The September issue of Canadian House & Home focused on small spaces - a topic with which I am very familiar! I love looking at how other people function in smaller spaces, so this issue was a treat for me.

This kitchen is from a Muti Kitchen & Bath ad and it. is. GORGEOUS! I love everything about it! Except I would have liked to see full-sized cabinets flanking either side of the sink against the wall to the right...but other than that it's perfect! It's pictures like this that I want to bring in when I'm picking out the condo finishes. Kevin already told me I can pick out anything I like, which makes me very happy because he likes everything dark and I like everything light.

Another obsession of mine is banquette seating. I think they're beautiful, space saving, and conducive to intimate casual dinners with friends. I really hope it's something we can incorporate into the condo. The homeowner, Sarah Callahan, did a great job on accessorizing this space. I love the mix of fuchsia, olive, black and white pillows! The lighting fixture, from Ikea, is the same one John and Sherry have in their bedroom on Young House Love. While I love the way it looks in pictures and love the shadows it casts on the walls when lit, I don't like the way it looks in person. For me, it's definitely a love-from-afar fixture.

Daybeds are great space savers. This first one here (2.) is more what I would consider a chaise and the last one (7.) is more like a comfy bench, but they're practically cousins to the daybed, hence why H&H included them in this Bed & Beyond article. Daybeds are great because they can double as a bed for your (shorter) overnight guests. The shortest one here is 71 inches (just under 6ft), which I (at 5'4") would have no problem sleeping on. Daybeds can also be used as room dividers. They have low/no backs so they don't block off spaces as harshly as the back of a traditional couch would. A daybed can also seat more people because you're able to sit on all sides of it.  

I don't know how things are in your neighbourhood, but around here, garbage/green/recycle bins are a real eyesore. The space between Toronto houses can be quite tight, so many people store their bins in front of their houses. A storage bin like this is a great solution, although this exact model is pricey... probably worth a DIY attempt!
Do you have any space saving solutions you'd like to share? I'm all ears!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Weekend Follies

Up until Sunday, I didn't do much this weekend. Kevin and I hung out at a bar with some friends on Friday, and then hung out at another bar with some other friends on Saturday (Sara and Darcy, from this post, who are soon to be travelling around Asia for 4-months!!). I did manage to finally get around to baking so I could put my cake stand to use! I made cupcakes instead of a full-on cake because I have a cupcake carrier. In theory, I could more easily bring cupcakes to work to share with my co-workers. In reality, I'm addicted to sugar and have already eaten at least 15 cupcakes. Three cupcakes lost their lives in this photo shoot alone. 

But can you blame me?? They're French vanilla with raspberry cream cheese icing! They're super pink because I used a new food colouring and mistakenly thought it was less concentrate than the kind I regularly use. 

On a less gluttonous note...well I guess this still has to do with eating... I went on something called the Edible Tree Tour with some people in my Meetup group. 

Each year Toronto’s urban forest produces millions of pounds of edible treats.  Follow our knowledgeable leaders - and your taste buds - through Toronto's urban forest and discover what appetizing delights await you.
Learn about urban harvesting with Laura Reinsborough from Not Far From The Tree, then explore the Ben Nobleman community orchard with Susan Poizner of Growing for Green.  Uncover delectable edibles in unexpected places with LEAF's Amanda Gomm, and learn how to glean what you've seen with foraging tips and tricks from Forbes Wild Foods. Forbes' jellies, syrups and tree goodies will be available for tasting and sale giving you the chance to satisfy any new-found cravings.

I'm not gonna lie - I thought there would be more eating and less talking, but it was interesting nonetheless. Gary was on the walk and asked today if I took notes. It has been well-established that I'm a horrible note-taker, and case-in-point as this is all I wrote on my iPhone's notepad:

  • Conifer trees are high in vitamin C
  • If the animals are eating the berries, they're edible
  • Juniper is used to make gin
The hike was was over 2 hours and that's all I managed to write lol At least I got this picture of a crab apple

On another note, my dad came over on Sunday to take a truck load of our furniture back to my parents' house. The kitchen table and chairs were the biggest item to go. The kitchen looks so empty now. We have just over 2 weeks until we move out, and I'm really not looking forward to it. Moving sucks. When I was in university, all of my friends said they want to travel as much as they can and work in different countries and cities. Not me! I was always the one saying I want to get a government job and buy a house, and then work at that job until I retire and live in that same house until I die.

Definitely not gonna happen, but a girl can dream!

How was your weekend?  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

If I Were The Landlord Series - Part 1

This series of posts is going to be a total bitch-fest for me. Several things in this apartment have bothered me during our 2 year stay here. I want to use this series to talk (re: bitch) about them, but also give suggestions of how I would change them. Feel free to give your input! I would love to hear other people's suggestions :-)

Let me start by saying that our apartment is a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, detached 1920's house in Toronto that has been split into 2 units. The second floor (where Kevin and I live) has 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, an eat-in kitchen and a living room. The wall-to-wall measurements equal 500sq ft. And we have 9 foot ceilings in each room except the living room (8 foot).

This is our refrigerator. It looks skinny in this photo, but it's a standard size. This "nook" that houses our refrigerator used to be a closet because our kitchen was a bedroom before the house was converted into 2 units. 

If you're thinking, "That awkward empty spot beside the fridge (that is in desperate need of a storage solution) looks awfully familiar..." it might be because you read this at Young House Love. 

Imagine their stackable washer/dryer are my refrigerator. This is exactly the kind of storage I would've added if I were the landlord of this house. Some time last year, I even checked Craigslist for some upper cabinets (you can always find them for cheap from people who are renovating their kitchen and want to get rid of their old cabinetry), but I didn't want to spend the money or time working on a project that I couldn't take with me. I considered asking my landlord to foot the bill and I would have done the work, but I don't have enough tools to make this from scratch.

Don't you think Sherry and John's storage solution would've worked so well in my space? What would you have done if you were me? As is stands, we didn't make use of the space at all and just kind of stacked items on top of the fridge and in the space between the fridge and the wall. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Ass Has A Name...

And it knows how to spell it!

My friend, Kim, and I went to a screening of The Help last night. Go see it! I read the book and it's awesome. I biked to the theatre downtown and sent her this text when I got there: 

"I rode my bike. I'm here. Coming up to the theatre now"

Then I put the phone in my pocket and my butt texted: 



It's like it was feeling neglected and wanted to remind me it was there. In all seriousness, this is probably a case of autocorrect fixing "Aaa", but nonetheless, I laughed my spelling-bee-champ of an ass off when I read it :-)
Almost all asses know how to dial, but does yours know how to text??

Monday, August 8, 2011

How I Doubled My Counter Space in a Rental

My apartment has 24 inches/60 cm of usable counter space for food prep. Pathetic! I don't know how I didn't notice the lack of kitchen storage and lack of counter space when we came for a viewing...

When we first moved in, I wanted to get a counter height kitchen table, which would have doubled as extra counter space. I scoured Craigslist for one, but the best value and best designed one I found was the UTBY table from Ikea. 
Kevin was not into that idea at all. He wanted a more traditional table (re: 30inches high or so with regular height chairs) so my UTBY table was scrapped. We ended up with a "regular" four person solid wood espresso table that we NEVER use... am I bitter I didn't get my UTBY? Just a bit!!


I still needed extra counter space, and one day I noticed that my baking sheet rests perfectly in our single sink and my cutting board rests perfectly in my baking sheet. It doesn't make for the most stable surface (re: don't use it for cutting hard vegetables!), but it added about an extra foot of space. I mostly just used it to rest food on.

I also bought the NORBO wall-mounted drop-leaf table from Craigslist for $10 and added that to the end of the counter.
It's a little deeper than my counter, so I asked my Dad to cut it to size. Ultimately, we ended up just leaving it as is - this way we can bring it to the condo with us and use it there as a laundry folding surface or something. The one I bought came in black-brown, but it's no longer listed on the Canadian Ikea website.

With the baking tray/cutting board and the folding table extended, my total counter space adds up to 66in/167cm...that's 42in/106cm more than I had before! 

And it's all easily removable :-)

When we move, we'll have to fill in a couple holes at the side of the counter, but that's easy to do. I admit it's not the most elegant looking solution, but it's pretty functional, can fold away out of site, and I can take it with me! That's the most important part when it comes to rentals: Don't spend money on items you can't take with you.

Do you have any creative ways to add counter space? Or do you already have huge counters? In which case I'm jealous!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bargoon Hunting

I saw an advertisement in the Toronto Star for a store-closing sale at BB Bargoons on Keele (just north of highway 7). I work not too far from there and knew I'd have my sister's car that week, so I stopped in on Tuesday to check it out. 

Going in that store bummed me out that the condo isn't going to be ready for at least another year because the fabric prices were phenomenal. If I knew my future window dimensions, I would've bought fabric for curtains. But I got over it because I love buying home goods! I'm addicted, actually. I picked up this glass apple that I'll use for candy, which will make it my candy apple :-) Yes, I'm lame like that.

I picked it up for $14.50 and the original price was $34.99.
I also saw this mirror. I loved the design and was immediately drawn to it. There were 2 of them. No price tag - of course not! Sigh.

There was a smaller apple green-framed green mirror beside it - Regular price $119, sale price $79. With the 50% off, the apple green mirrors were $39.50 each.
I left my camera at home that day, so please bear with my MacGyver-ed version I made in Paint. I liked the shape of this green mirror, but not the colour and I knew taping off circles so I could spray paint would be a pain in the ass. I was mostly just looking at it so I could estimate the price of the black mirror - it was definitely going to cost more. I brought one of the black mirrors up to the register so the cashier could check the price. She told me to walk around the store and come back in a few minutes because she had to manually look it up in the system. I was hoping it would be less than $100, then reduced by 50% making it $50, but it seemed unlikely based on the price of the smaller green mirror. When I got back to the register a few minutes later, the woman told me it was $ 50% off!!!!

I may or may not have jumped in the air with excitement like this girl, and then ran across the store to get the other one :-) Each mirror ended up being $29.50 each and I could not have been more happy with my purchase. I'm pretty sure Kevin was impressed with my deal... okay, maybe "impressed" isn't the right word, but he was at least satisfied!

As we're moving at the end of this month, I won't be hanging these up in our apartment, but maybe they'll make an appearance in my new place. We'll see!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Realtor Photos

My landlord's realtor came by this evening to take pictures of our apartment. I rushed home to do some quick cleaning up before he came because Kevin said he couldn't find his August metropass and tore the apartment apart this morning looking for it. I thought he was kidding - he was not. It literally looked like we'd been robbed when I came home. Like the apartment had been RANSACKED! If I hadn't been in such a rush to clean it up before the realtor arrived I would've taken a picture.

This isn't our place, but if you replace the baby toys with flyers and clothes it's pretty close to how it looked when I got home!
I had planned  to use this opportunity to take pictures of the apartment too... but then I asked the realtor if I could see his pictures (because he had a very fancy lens on his very expensive camera) and they were waaaay better than any pictures I would've taken! His lens was super wide so he could practically get the whole room in one shot. I asked him if he could send them to me - he (begrudgingly) took my email address, so I'll share those once I get them.

Also, the Realtor tried to tell me our apartment is 650 square feet - Ha! Yeeeeah RIGHT! I've measured the unit, room-by-room, wall-to-wall and it came out at 504 square feet. That's including non-usable space like where the counters are, the stairs, closets, etc. He said square footage is calculated by measuring the maximum length by the maximum width of the dwelling. Is that true? If it is, that sucks!
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