Living room furniture decisions

While we procrastinate about finalizing decisions for our bathroom reno, I have been distracting myself with thinking about our living room. You may remember the modular sofa that we made a custom slipcover for- and while it has endured pretty well, it’s still 30+ years old and a bit saggy. It’s also really low to the ground and feels small for the space. I’ve been on the lookout for its replacement for a little while, but I’ve been having a hard time getting my husband to commit to one. I found this gorgeous navy blue sofa at a local interiors store back in the summer, and it was on crazy sale because it was a floor model… but realistically it was still out of our price range, and we weren’t convinced that it was the right colour (thanks to the lovely Krista for modelling).

sofa at MyHome interiors

When we asked around some of our friends and family for furniture store recommendations, we found out that my sister and her husband had scored their gorgeous leather sofa in the as-is section of Leon’s for a few hundred bucks; since hearing that, it has become hard to justify spending a lot of money. Plus we would like to have kids eventually, so we decided to focus more on cheap and durable than a high-quality investment.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to be at our local Ikea helping a friend shop for her nursery (so exciting!) when we spotted the KIVIK sofa and chaise sectional for 25% off in the as-is section. I called my husband to try and and convince him to let me come home with it, but being the rational guy he is, he wanted to take some measurements and do some comparison shopping first (ugh, I know, right?). Thanks this time to Sarah for modelling.

Ikea KIVIK loveseat and chaise
So when I got home we looked at similar models online from other furniture stores, and realized that we could spend upwards of $2000-3000 for a sectional from a store like EQ3, Structube, or Urban Barn… or we could spend under half of that on the KIVIK sectional. We didn’t even need to get the saggy, faded floor model to score a deal, because they were having a BOGO-50% off sale on living room furniture, and it comes as two separate pieces! I know Ikea is not the greatest quality, and the other stores sell Canadian made, hardwood frame sofas which explains their higher costs- but at this stage in our lives, the 10 year warranty that Ikea offers is sufficient and while we save money for our bathroom reno, we need to pick and choose where we invest carefully.

porter sectional EQ3
Porter sectional from EQ3- $2299.00; assembled dimensions 100″w x 66″d x 33″h

Ikea KIVIK loveseat and chaise
KIVIK loveseat and chaise from Ikea- $929 CA (regular price); assembled dimensions 110 1/4″w x
64 1/8″d x 32 5/8″h

I looked up online reviews for the KIVIK like the good little GenY-er that I am, and people seem to be pretty happy with it. The cover can be washed, the cushions can be removed and flipped, and the chaise can go on either side of the loveseat to form the sectional. I also really like the style of it, it’s neither super modern nor traditional. Possibly the best thing I read about it is that it’s a great napping couch. Sold! It’s pretty similar in style to our old sectional, but it’s firmer and not as low to the ground, which had always been my biggest complaint about the old one. We opted for the Tullinge grey-brown colour, which I think will work with a lot of different décor options.

Do you have any as-is furniture steals to brag about, or any feedback about the KIVIK sofa? Ever make your friends model sofas for size perspective? Tell me about it!

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More bathroom plans

Ok, seriously: we are getting closer to making a decision on our bathroom reno. After 11+ SketchUp plans, I feel as if we are narrowing in on our dream bathroom. If you didn’t catch my last post on our plans, we have about 75 sq ft to work with and a want list of: separate shower enclosure and tub, double vanity, and storage space (thinking the toilet goes without saying).

My husband had found an idea a while back to fit both a tub and separate shower enclosure in a smaller bathroom, but I was having a hard time imagining how it would work in our space. Basically instead of having them separate with the usual amount of space between them (24-30″ is the guideline I’ve found), you could have them as one entity, making sure to tile around the tub so that the water splashing from the shower wouldn’t be an issue. I had a pretty hard time visualizing this, since the one example we found was of a long and narrow room. The shower enclosure took up the entire width of the room, and you walked through it to get to the tub, which also took up the width of the room. There was a glass half-wall between the shower and the vanity to enclose the shower area and the rest was open. We lost the link to the image, of course, but here is a rough idea of how that layout looked.

sketch up long narrow bathroom layout

As I said, that wouldn’t work in our bathroom because it is not long and narrow. But we found another example online with the same idea, except with the shower and bath perpendicular to each other, like this:

joint shower and bath enclosure

joint shower and bath enclosure 2

I have a really hard time visualizing spatial orientations of things so having this photo helped me see how this could look in real life, and I quite like it! We really like the glass enclosure, which will keep everything looking open in the small space we’re working with. We also like the gentle slope for drainage from the floor to the shower- no curb to trip over or stub your toe on! Finding this photo got the old cogs turning again and I came up with a new layout.

sketchup layout 11

It ticks all the boxes on our list, but without the compromises that some of our previous layouts had; the biggest in my mind being a double vanity so small that two people couldn’t use it simultaneously, only 40″ wide. I found a slightly larger vanity from Home Depot online that is 17.75″ deep by 48″, which I’m not completely sold on, but it gives us a starting point. We could even get away with one a bit larger!

Virtu USA Model # UM-3067-C-ES Opal 48 in vanity

Virtu USA Model # UM-3067-C-ES Opal 48 in vanity

Virtu USA Model # UM-3067-C-ES Opal 48 in vanity

I love that this layout gives us space on the wall between the vanity and shower enclosure for towel racks, and space for a small storage cupboard to house stuff that doesn’t fit in the vanity drawers. It affords us a bit of flexibility too; once the tub and shower enclosure are built, if we decide it’s too tight for both the cupboard and the toilet beside the bath, we could move the toilet over and have a cupboard mounted above the toilet for more storage space.

What do you think, are we ready to start knocking down walls? Any last advice before we start putting the wheels in motion?

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Front entrance shelf (aka clutter catch-all)

One of the features I first loved about our house was the large built-in shelf that spans the wall near the front door. I imagined that we could display some of our book collection there with some cool bookends, maybe add in a few handy storage baskets, some framed photos, and the driftwood candle holder that my husband said I would never use after our wedding (ha!)- sort of an eclectic mix that would work as both a display and a functional storage solution. Here are some inspiration pics for the sort of look I had in mind.

Google Image search result,  original source unknown
Pinterest under stairs shelf
From Pinterest, original source unknown

I worked really hard on prepping it, filling in all of the cracks with caulk and taping it off before applying several coats of white trim paint. And it looked really great when it was done, the bright white really popped against the wall colour. But then real life set in, and this is what the shelf looks like after purging all the junk currently.

DSC_1657__01

Pretty boring and not very functional. I haven’t decided what books I want to unpack/display, and I haven’t come up with a solution to corral all the stuff we dump here after getting home. Yes, that is a wrench in front of the bowl. Figure I better burst the illusion that renos happen overnight and every room looks like a spread in House & Home all the time. Adding to the tools, stack of mail, pile of mittens, and overall lackluster appearance are a few noticeable blemishes. See, my husband works pretty early shifts and usually leaves the house before 7 am. He is also not a morning person and likes to stay in bed until the last possible second, so his “routine” involves a lot of frantic stumbling around the house while he puts on his work boots, makes his lunch, drinks his coffee, brushes his teeth, and gets dressed (in no particular order). After a few weeks in the house, I started finding a few of these on my beautiful freshly painted shelf.

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Of course they don’t wipe off and are now an integral part of the finish. Add that to the fact that we both usually walk in the door and dump our keys on the shelf, since it’s the first available surface when you enter the house, and now we have scratches and chips in the finish to complement the coffee rings.

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Witness my shame, Internet. Witness it!

Since the shelf is the first thing you see when you walk in the door, it doesn’t really give the impression of a clean, organized, and stylish home that I had envisioned. My plan is to repaint it with the same melamine latex paint we used on our kitchen cabinet doors, because that stuff is super durable once it has set. Since melamine is kind of smelly and we are officially past open window and door weather, that will have to wait until next spring/summer. In the mean time, I’m going to look out for some storage baskets that we can use to organize the clutter and try to find some cool bookends. Also, since I saw Brit’s post about corralling mail I’ve been on the lookout for an organizer, and the other day I snagged a sweet magazine rack from HomeSense that will totally work.

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Man, we really have to put the quarter round back on the floors, that looks terrible! Don’t mind the shoe apocalypse and general detritus going on the in the background there, either.

[Side note-I’ve been holding back on blogging lately because I still don’t know how to use my Nikon camera properly (and it’s pretty old and outdated as far as DSLRs go) and I don’t have any gosh-wow room reveals to share. And everything I’ve read about having a successful blog says you have to post gorgeous, well-shot photographs. But you know what? I still want to post on my blog, and this crap doesn’t happen overnight. Lots of my friends have said to me “Oh I wish I had your skill/creativity/vision”, like it’s some kind of miracle or unique talent to decorate and renovate a home. It’s really not, and I’m not trying to be modest or humble- I think home décor mags and some blogs make it look easy, so people feel guilty or bad that they can’t or haven’t done something they read about. Don’t! There is no magic wand- all it takes is hard work and a lot of time. And it’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. I can’t tell you how often I start something and then halfway through, I mess something up or realize I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew, but by that point I’ve committed too much time/money to give up, and if I’m one thing I’m stubborn, so I keep on going. And once it’s done it’s all worth it. So: persevere! You can do it too! My house certainly doesn’t look perfect all of the time, because we live in it, it’s not a show room. So in the future instead of feeling guilty that a photo isn’t perfectly staged, or I couldn’t be bothered to drag out and charge my Nikon so I grabbed my iPhone instead, or you can see into the messy closet in the background, I’m just going to post it and write about it. Ok, end rant.]

Do you have a “shame shelf”? Found any miracle solutions for clutter in a small entryway? I’d love to hear it!

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Bathroom plans

We are at a bit of a standstill at the moment. The next big thing on our list is tackling our bathroom reno, but we haven’t decided how to do it yet- and quite honestly, I’m a little scared to take the plunge! What if it’s awful? Bathrooms are expensive, it’s not like we can try again. And it’s hard to move a tub once you’ve installed it but discover you should have put it a little more to the left. This will definitely be the most ambitious project we have attempted so we are thinking long and hard about how to make it happen!

Currently our bathroom layout leaves a lot to be desired. The vanity is huge but only has one sink, so there is a lot of wasted space there. The back hall closet and our hall linen closet cut into the footprint, so if we knock down some walls we could steal a bit of extra room. The available floor space is white in the picture below.

Google sketch up current bathroom layout

If we knock out both the back hall closet and the linen closet, we will have about 75 square feet to work with. Not exactly massive, and on our wish list is a double vanity (me), a separate shower stall (my husband), and some sort of storage space (me again). While it is theoretically possible to cram all of this stuff in, we’re not sure it will be worth the trade-off on clear floor space. Plus the “double vanity” that we found that is small enough to fit is a double vanity in name only: there is actually not enough room for two normal-sized adults to stand beside each other and comfortably use both sinks at the same time.

Ikea hemnes odensvik vanity

Ikea Hemnes/Odensvik vanity

Here are the viable options we have so far:

  1. Free standing tub against one wall; toilet, shower enclosure, and vanity against the other; door opens outwards or install pocket door.bathroom layout 1
  2. Switch the shower and vanity, move the tub against the back wall; door can open inside the room or may install a pocket door to save space.
    Google sketch up bathroom layout 2
  3. Move the toilet where the linen closet is currently; build a knee wall for a modicum of privacy should someone barge in on you; move the vanity beside the bath; shower enclosure where the back hall closet is currently; door swings out or install pocket door.Google sketch up bathroom layout 3
  4. Move the tub parallel to the back wall, vanity and toilet on opposite sides; move the shower to wear the storage cupboard is currently and move the door to wear the linen closet is currently.

bathroom layout 4

Soooo…. now we have to decide I guess? We have cleared a space in our living room to mark down possible layouts with painters tape, so we can get a feel for how much room will actually be between everything. We did this with option number 3 above, which seems to have the most open floor space available… and it still felt pretty cramped. I’m starting to lean towards keeping the current layout and just tearing out the old stuff and replacing with a new shower/tub combo and new vanity. Luckily we have already replaced the toilet so at least that’s one bathroom fixture down *nervous laugh*. Ack! At least one thing I’ve gained so far is learning how to use Google Sketch Up. Apparently it’s great when you know what you’re doing, but sadly I am still in the swearing-at-the-computer-stage.

Any advice or opinions? Should we go for it and knock down the walls, or leave the layout as is and just replace everything?

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Master bedroom progress

So things are starting to take shape in the master bedroom, now that we finally have a queen sized bed! I don’t know how we lasted 3 years sharing a double bed- ok, it’s because we’re not huge people and we’re also quite snuggly… but the extra space is still nice.

When we had our offer accepted on the house, I went on a celebratory shopping spree for what I thought was going to be my sewing room. I picked up some throw pillows from Chapters- including one with a beautiful watercolour design- along with a table lamp from Target and a gorgeous lilac ceramic vase.

watercolour throw pillows, lamp, lilac vase

My plan was to put my papasan chair, a small desk, and our single bed in that bedroom, and I would decorate it with the stuff I bought. Then our double bed could go in the third bedroom, which was going to be our guest room. But once I thought about it more, I realized that it didn’t leave any space for my husband to have his computer and desk.

Right now we’re both too busy watching The Mindy Project finishing up painting the last few rooms and putting up curtains to worry about office space, since we both have laptops. But eventually Al is going to want to set up his fancy computer somewhere, and it will have to be in one of the 2 spare bedrooms. Since we have different ideas of what a clean desk looks like and where tools belong, it’s probably best if the room he uses as his office is not the room that doubles as a guest room, so the room with the double bed will be my sewing room when we don’t have company over. This doesn’t leave enough room for my papasan chair, and the stuff I bought to decorate doesn’t match the quilt that goes on the double bed. BUT! I tried the vase and the lamp on the dresser I repainted, and the throw pillows on our bed, and they actually look really great in there with the new paint colour (Behr’s French Silver). I had actually been thinking it was a little blah looking with our grey quilt, and had wanted to get some more colour in there anyway. When I found a cool drawer storage box from HomeSense to corral jewelry, hand cream, and other crap that lives on my dresser, and I was sold.

DSC_1622_DSC_1620_

Now our master bedroom is grey with a little hit of purple and blue, and I really love how it looks! We still have to put up the geometric print white curtains I found from BouClair, but it’s really coming together. Hopefully the white keeps it nice and bright in there, since I am basically like a house plant that needs as much natural light as possible.

If you haven’t checked out Design Seeds® for colour palette inspiration, it’s definitely worth a visit- I perused it a lot when I was wedding planning. I found some great palettes there for our master bedroom- how gorgeous is the agate one?

design seeds mineral palette

design seeds agate blues palette design seeds crafted hues palette design seeds floral palette

Have you had any decor or design dreams that didn’t quite turn out the way you wanted, but worked in a different way? Sometimes I’ll even buy something that I have no idea what to do with, just because I can’t live without it… and then I only figure out where to put it much later. But it all works out in the end!

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No More “Forest” Room

What’s the Forest Room, you ask? Do you remember this picture from our “Before” album?

bedroom 1

Who could forget that wallpaper? If you can’t tell from the picture, it was a greenish brown impressionist take on a forest. There is only one window and the room is smallish, so the room is super dark. It’s kind of funny that the wallpaper was installed so long ago that this look is kind of coming back into style, but I assure you this was no birch print that is popping up everywhere.

 

Yeah. Not what we’re dealing with here. At first I thought I might try to paint over it, like my parents did in the house I grew up in. But although I inherited many good DIY skills from them, I think painting over wallpaper is generally not the best idea. I distinctly remember scraping my skin on the painted-over velvet embossed wallpaper in my childhood bedroom- the velvet turned all pointy and scratchy when it got painted over, so the surface of my walls was like sandpaper. And I was a clumsy kid. I did try a test patch to see if I could get away with it, but the paper absorbed too much moisture from the paint. Curse you, Ottawa humidity! You could also totally see the seams from the wallpaper.

forest wallpaper in the guest room- before
So I picked up some wallpaper adhesive remover (I’ve heard fabric softener works great too), a “Wallpaper Tiger” that you run all over the surface to perforate the paper and allow the adhesive remover to soak in, and set to work. First I scored the wallpaper with the Tiger all over, making sure that the perforations were about every inch or so to let the remover really soak in. Then I sprayed the remover on- I bought this gel version that stayed on nicely and didn’t run all over the place. Note that I’m wearing gloves because I’m a sissy and I don’t like getting my hands dirty, not because the stuff was particularly dangerous.
IMG_2632IMG_2630IMG_2631
I worked in sections of 2 strips of paper so that the remover never dried out and had about 15-20 min soak-in time. I found that it would take me about this time to peel off 2 strips, so as soon as one section was ready to peel I sprayed down the next section. This was my first time removing wallpaper and I think it went pretty well; from start to finish (including prep time laying down drop sheets and assembling supplies) I took about 1.5 hours. The paper mostly came off pretty easy by lifting the edges with a putty knife and pulling down gently, but it did take off some bits off the wall below.
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  Once I had all the paper removed, I scrubbed down the walls really well with the scouring side of a work sponge to get the excess adhesive off. We left it for a day or two to dry off before patching the holes with drywall compound.
IMG_2584
Now the walls are ready for paint, and it’s going to be SO much brighter than before! I can’t wait.
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Ch-ch-changes (big and small)

The first few weeks we had the house were spent frantically getting it ready to move in: painting every surface (ceilings, trim, walls, and all the required mudding and caulking) and ripping up the carpet.  Having a hard deadline for when we needed to be out of the apartment really helped us be productive and work towards meeting our goal, and then we were really busy moving and unpacking all the essentials at the house.

I can’t say we have been as efficient since moving in, and I’m trying to be ok with it. I find it really annoying having mess/tools/half finished jobs everywhere I look, and I have a hard time sitting and relaxing when I know there is so much to do, so I tend to burn myself out until I physically can’t do anymore. I’m trying to force myself to just accept that it takes time, and everything I want to accomplish can’t get done right away. We both have full time jobs and not much vacation time, as well as the usual obligations to friends and family that everyone has- and I don’t want to feel like our home is one giant chore, I want to enjoy it! So I’m giving myself permission to relax and take things one step at a time, and if we have friends over and we need to move the sander off the coffee table and drop cloths off the couch before they can sit down, who cares?

Anyway.

I don’t have any of the high-impact big reveals to share, but these are some small things we’ve done that have made a big difference:

  1. Changed out most of the outlets and light switches for new ones; DSC_1651_
  2. Finished painting the bodies of the kitchen cabinets, removed the old scalloped border above the sink (which necessitated a very time consuming patch job), and installed a new light above the sink;kitchen progress(Side note- the cabinet doors don’t close perfectly since painting/re-installing them, and we are still trying to decide on a paint colour as indicated by the paint swatches everywhere, but still, progress!!)
  3. Put up a mostly decorative mailbox (all our mail goes to the local Canada Post, but maybe a kind neighbor will slip a note in there asking us to mow our lawn more often?); DSC_1642_
  4. Bought some new light fixtures for the hall, dining room, and foyer, as well as a floor lamp from HomeSense for our living room;DSC_1588_
  5. Installed most of the doors that we painted white, and upgraded the hinges and hardware;IMG_2625This picture also shows off one of our new light fixtures! What’s that? You want to see what it looked like before we painted, removed the carpet, and replaced the light fixture? OK!
    IMG_2152
  6. AND perhaps most exciting of all, we have finally upgraded to a queen sized bed, and moved our old double into the guest room! We also bought these cool reading lights that we mounted to the guest bed headboard, and hung green curtains that look great with the quilt. So far the cat has pretty much claimed this space, which is great news for our friends with allergies. Guess we’ll just keep some Aerius on the nightstand.

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DSC_1599_Up next: more painting, more light fixture replacement and installing curtains in our bedroom so no one charges my husband with public indecency. Hooray!

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Lighting Woes

There are some really great things about living in Canada, like hockey, super nice people, poutine, freedom of speech/belief/wearing plaid whenever you want without fearing persecution, but one of those things is not good prices on home décor goods from American stores online.

I am majorly envious of all the DIY bloggers I follow who post stuff about the deals they get on really cool stuff places like Overstock.com and West Elm. It just doesn’t happen for us north of the border and it makes me sad. Factoring in the cost of shipping -when most places offer free shipping within the continental U.S.- not to mention the cost of duty, which can vary wildly, erases whatever good bargain you think you’ve found.

Case in point: lighting.

As you know, our house was originally built in the 1960s and the former owners took the charming stance that if it functioned properly, they were not changing it. The few ceiling lights we have (most rooms don’t have a ceiling light wired in) are an ugly trifecta of whorled brass, gold, and fake crystal. Near the top of our to-do list has been finding new light fixtures, but all the ones I liked were so damn expensive (#firstworldproblems). The main fixtures we wanted to replace were the hall light, the back foyer light, and the dining room light.

For the hall I wanted something square, with frosted glass and black or oil rubbed bronze trim, and my first pick was this one from Shades of Light.

shades of light square flush mount bronze and frosted glass

But when I went to check out, United States was the only option for delivery and on their Shipping Information page, they say to “call for a quote” for shipping costs to Canada or Mexico. I interpreted this as meaning I wouldn’t want to pay what they charged. Sad face.

I was also eyeing this fixture from Ballard Designs for the dining room- I love the look of a lantern pendant above a table!

Ballard Designs Delaney pendant lantern oil rubbed bronze

Although they ship to Canada, the light was already more than I wanted to pay and I hadn’t even factored in the shipping costs, so I decided to forget about it and try to find some cheaper options elsewhere.

On a trip to Home Depot, I found a square flush mount that I liked for the hall, but it had a faux cherry wood finish that was too red when I got it home. A can of spray paint fixed that for $6, and I was very chuffed with myself. I had the look I wanted for $56, fist pump! But when Al went to hardwire and install it, it had non-standard parts and was was really flimsy. Then I was underneath it putting some sheets away in our linen cupboard and it came crashing down almost on my head! Naturally we couldn’t return it after the spray paint, so we chalked it up to a lesson learnt that you get what you pay for.

I put the hall light on hold and focused on finding a lantern-style pendant light for the dining room, and found this one from Overstock.com for a better price than the Shades of Light one. I was even more excited about it when I got a 10% coupon emailed!

Overstock.com Ashley 4 light bronze pendant lantern

But when I got to the checkout I didn’t notice anywhere I could order my coupon code, and when I dug deeper on their shipping policies I discovered they don’t allow coupons on “International” orders. Come on! International? I could practically spit and land on U.S. soil. Aren’t we each other’s biggest trade partners or something? You know, we give them maple syrup and back bacon, they give us pork rinds and spray cheese in a can? Why can’t we extend this friendly mercantile relationship to include stuff I actually want to buy?

Argh.

When I was complaining about this to friends of ours, they told us about canadalightingexperts.com, a site that has pretty reasonable prices without any duty, taxes, or shipping costs to Canada. Their selection is not as great as some of the other sites I’ve found, but I found a few similar lights to what I was looking for at a much better price, like these ones.

 

Tech Lighting TL 90 - Two Light Square Large Flush Mount - Frost Glass

Progress Piedmont - Four Light Foyer - Antique Bronze Finish with Antique Stone-Etched Glass

Satisfied that I had found lights I liked at a price I could stomach, I placed the order. But I still couldn’t get the lantern from Overstock.com out of my head. I was worried that every time I looked up at the ceiling, I’d be wishing I’d spent a little more and bought the other one, y’know? The dining room and living room are basically one big L shaped room where we spend a lot of time, and the more I thought about it the more I wanted the Overstock.com one, despite the larger price tag. So in a moment of weakness I decided to buy it too. The light I bought from canadalightingexperts.com will work in the back foyer luckily, so it wasn’t a waste.

I’m trying not to think about how the price increased by $90 when I put in my postal code (duty+shipping) and focus instead on how good it’s going to look, because even with the final inflated price it’s still the one I liked best for the lowest price (compared to the Shades of Light one, which was the same price before shipping).

overstock checkout2 overstock coupon2

Ok, I’m still mad.

Am I missing something? Have you found any great bargains despite shipping to Canada? I know I could just drive over the border to Ogdensburg and get a deal for the price of a tank of gas, but that is assuming that they have what I want in stores. One day we will probably do that for flooring/tiles, and I will feel a little guilty for taking my CAD dollars south instead of boosting our own economy, but I’ll just pick up a can of spray cheese to remind myself what’s so great about shopping in the U.S.!

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No more avocado toilet!

Since moving in we’ve made a few changes in the bathroom, and one thing in particular was pretty crappy: putting in a new toilet! See what I did there? If you follow me on Instagram @cathyatdeardiy, this will be old news to you, but I still wanted to share how we did it for those who might be intimidated by replacing a toilet.

Getting this done wasn’t really at the top of our priority list but I am coming to realize that our priorities need to be flexible. These days I find myself repeating “Well, we weren’t planning on doing that yet, but…” since there have been some unexpected things that crop up that we need to deal with before we were intending to. Like replacing the toilet.

avocado toilet with wood seat

Isn’t it lovely, in all its Avocado and wooden seat glory? The look wasn’t bothering us too much, because there is so much ugly in the bathroom it all just kind of blends together: white and gold glazed tile, green fixtures, floral wallpaper, starburst chrome towel holders, and pendant globe light fixtures on thick brass chains that were collectively the height of home decor fashion in 1960. But the constant running of the water in the toilet tank and its tendency to spontaneously clog was definitely a pain, seeing as it is our only toilet!

So we picked up a Flushometer 4000 (actually an American Standard dual flush something or other) and set to work. My husband was the one doing the real dirty work but I had the important jobs of wrapping and taping garbage bags around the old toilet so we didn’t leak poo water all over the house, and scrubbing the grime off the floor once the toilet was removed. I’m telling myself that it was grime at least, it was very cringeworthy. And now we have this to look at instead:

new American Standard toilet after replacement

I won’t go into detail on how to replace a toilet, there are excellent videos on YouTube that my husband watched to prepare (sorry, plumbers of the world). It looked pretty straightforward to me. I will tell you about some of the snags we hit along the way that may save you some trouble:

  • The original toilet rough-in was not the standard 12″ from the wall but it was close enough to make it work. If yours is off by too much, you may need to install an offset flange or, worst-case scenario, an entirely new rough-in.
  • We didn’t realize that we needed to exchange the original bolts for the bolts included with the toilet. The old ones were not high enough to secure the toilet, so we ended up ruining the first wax gasket and having to run to Home Hardware for another one. This meant we had to scrape all the wax from the first gasket off so we could start over and put the new bolts in. Not the end of the world, just annoying… but it might be a good idea to tackle this kind of project during normal working hours of your local home improvement store, just in case you need to pick up something that you weren’t expecting and don’t have a second bathroom!
  • The length of the piping that runs water up into the toilet’s tank did not fit on the new toilet, so that was another trip to Home Hardware. The original one was 8″ but the tank of the new toilet was higher and needed a 12″ one, so it’s a good idea to measure the old and the new toilet for this!

If you plan on replacing a toilet, just make sure you have a couple of buckets handy that you don’t mind disposing of afterwards or can bleach the hell out of. Rubber gloves and a few sponges are also necessary, as well as a putty knife or something to scrape off wax/brown-stuff-you-hope-is-wax off the floor.

Happy Flushing!

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Ripping up carpet and next steps

Well, we are officially out of our apartment and in the house permanently! The big jobs that we wanted to get done before moving in (ie. painting the walls and ripping up the carpet) got done just in the nick of time. I was hoping to do a lot of purging before we moved but there just wasn’t time with all the stuff we were trying to finish at the house, so a lot of boxes went into the basement for Future Cathy and Future Allan to deal with (suckers!).

It’s funny because I have discovered that there are jobs that are time consuming and don’t have much payoff, like painting trim, and then there are jobs that take no time at all and make a huge difference, like ripping up carpet. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent prepping and painting trim- and sure, it freshens things up and makes a difference to the final look once the walls are painted- but until you get to that point you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. But the satisfaction of spending a few hours cutting and rolling carpet to reveal the hardwood underneath made up for it.

If you follow me on Instagram @cathyatdeardiy, you will know how disappointed we were when we discovered that the hardwood ended before the hallway. We were hoping that it extended at least to the threshold of the bedrooms, which we discovered after the home inspection had vinyl tile under the carpet.

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Ah well. After we got over it, we set to work. We had to be careful when removing the carpet in the living room and dining room, so we folded it over a 2-3 foot section and then cut along the folded edge to protect the wood.

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Then we rolled up each strip and bundled it with twine so that the lovely waste management workers of Ottawa would take them along with the trash.

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You can see that carpet removal is fueled by beer and cider.

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This is what it looked like before we patched and primed the hell out of the space above the fireplace, because the previous owners had never painted the drywall where the large mirror had hung. No stud finders needed here!

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The new colour (Dove by Behr) is not that different from the original paint, which was a blessing because it went on in 1 coat! But it freshens it up and having a grey beige as opposed to a yellowy beige really modernizes it.

We lucked out in that the carpet underlay was in really good condition, I’ve heard horror stories about it disintegrating into dust but ours came up in one piece. There was also hardly any dirt underneath, which speaks to how clean the previous owners must have kept it. Now we will be spending a lot of quality time with our friends Messrs. Hammer, Pliers, and Cat’s Paw to rip up all the nails, staples, and carpet tack.

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Seeing the mountain of rolled up carpet was also very satisfying, and it will probably only take a few months of our biweekly garbage collection for them to take it all…

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Seriously though, how gorgeous is that hardwood? It’s a bit on the orangey side but it’s in really great shape. We think it’s red oak but I’d love to hear if someone knows for sure. Now we just need to figure out what to do next… start the bathroom reno? Paint the kitchen? Refinish the original hardwood or install new hardwood first? Stay tuned to find out!

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