We finally have blinds up!

Yeah! Our living room/dining room windows had been completely bare since we took possession last August. I was ok with that, since I need a ridiculous amount of natural light (I blame our long Canadian winters) but then our neighbor commented on our lack of privacy and it made me go “Hmmm. We should probably do something about that.” And so we did. 3 months later.

I knew I wanted to do woven wood blinds with white drapes, and my inspiration came from here:

As usual, my expensive taste did not jive with my conservative budget. The image above from houzz lists the blinds as Hunter Douglas, and I found similar ones from Blinds To Go. But when I priced that option out, it would have been around $600 for all 4 windows in the living room/dining room. And that was after a BOGO 50% sale! BouClair had similar ones but they couldn’t cut the blinds to the size we needed (and the quality was not great). I finally found what I wanted for a decent price at Lowe’s- and we didn’t even need to cut them since they were exactly the right size! Hooray! They definitely add a coziness that was missing, and help the room look a lot more finished.

DSC_1948_ DSC_1953_
I love how our new accent chairs look in here, and I’m pretty chuffed with how the throw pillows turned out- I bought that fabric ages ago when I did my milk paint chairs but never ended up using it, so I’m glad I found a spot for it!

Now for the drapes…

Friends of mine have drapes that hang from the vaulted ceiling all the way to the floor in their living room and I am majorly envious of them. I’m fairly sure they were custom made and are out of my price range but luckily I have found a few DIY tutorials on how to fake the custom look using an Ikea hack (naturally). The secret is to iron a few pleats and use drapery weights to give the fabric that heavy, expensive look. Here are a couple of great posts that take you through the process.

ikea hack drapes curtains

WCC DIY pinch pleat
Whaling City Cottage: DIY Pinch Pleat Curtains

I’m hoping the end result looks something like this from Design Indulgence, but I’m on the fence about whether to go with black or grey trim.

design indulgence
We do have a few black accents here and there but the sofa, dining room chair cushions, and throw blankets are all grey. As you probably know, grey and I are BFFs for life but maybe it’s time I stopped relying so heavily on it, black might bring a nice contrast in. Thoughts??

It will probably take a little while longer until I actually get this finished but I’m just so happy that we got something done that didn’t involve using a shovel! The basement is about halfway finished now, we’re just waiting for the backhoe to come back so we can get the rest dug up. Needless to say, we needed the break.

-C

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Our First Year

Whoa! I can’t believe it’s been one year since we got the keys to our house. What’s that saying, the days are long but the years are short? Yeah, that’s becoming so true the older I get. We have been working our little butts off on the foundation and while we have spent the past two months literally and metaphorically digging ourselves into and back out of a pit, it’s so easy to see all the work there is left to do instead of patting ourselves on the back for all the work we’ve done, you know?

DSC_1522_

Aww, remember when we used to have flower beds instead of piles of clay?

So I thought I’d do another little sum up post of what we’ve accomplished, so that I don’t just spend my life thinking I’m a horrible slacker for not quite being finished everything I thought we would. Really, the only thing we thought we’d do in the first year that we didn’t get done is the bathroom reno, but we also never planned on doing the foundation in our first year either, so I think we can call that a wash!

Here’s my last progress post that I chronicled our first few months of home ownership in- wouldn’t want to get all redundant on you! (Psst… if you really want to see how far we’ve come, check out the photos from the realtor’s listing.)

Since then, here’s what we’ve got done:

Third bedroom: removed that hideous forest wallpaper, painted all the things, ripped up old green carpet

carpet before after2Kitchen: installed new light fixture, changed all the outlets, painted all the things, sewed and installed a badass valence that you can’t even tell I did a hack job on

One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIY – Bedrooms: ripped up the old vinyl floor that was under the carpet, pulled up SO. MANY. STAPLES. and had new carpet installed
– Guest room: moved our old double bed in, hung curtains, hemmed said curtains, put in a desk
Master bedroom: bought a new queen sized mattress, found an accent chair for the corner/clothes dump/sleeping cat and have somewhat of a colour scheme going on

accent chair

I am so glad I don’t have to look at that horrible vinyl tile any more

– Basement: cleaned and organized many times over by my husband. I hardly ever go down there and he’s pretty much always neatening things up, condensing the boxes that I half-unpack, mopping the floor, etc. Probably because he wants to establish it as his domain now when it’s crappy and unfinished so that later when it’s awesome he can have an 1100 square foot man cave.
Living room: bought a new sofa, found accent chairs, hung gallery wall with wedding photos, sorted out the entry shelf, organized entry closet, and hung blinds.

accent chairs

Yeah, the chair legs still have the wrapping on. Real classy, Cathy. They also spent their first few days in our house covered in plastic before I Scotchgarded them. #clumsyproblems

– Sunroom: cleaned out all the old carpet and crap that we’ve been dumping there as we worked over the winter, moved our old sofa in and found a cute coffee table.

sunroom_bright – Foundation: dug a 6 foot trench all around the house and garage, pressure washed the entire surface, patched parging, applied foundation paint, attached platon membrane, covered ground with gravel, laid O-pipe, covered with more gravel, and backfilled the whole mess. Not to mention cooking and feeding all our friends/family who donated their time to help out. Oh yeah and waged battle with a foot of mud every time we tried to go down there because it would not stop raining!! Sorry for detailing every little things but it has been a huge undertaking and I want credit for all the incremental things that meant we did not spend our summer bbq-ing, drinking beer, and relaxing at a cottage.

Ok now I don’t feel so bad that our yard needs to be re-landscaped. Looking back over this list also really gives me an appreciation for how hard my marriage has worked, too. I can see lots of things that I did on my own, my husband did on his own, or that we both worked on together- despite all the inevitable arguments about how many throw pillows are too many or what’s a reasonable price for an accent chair, we make a great team and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings us! I think there are a lot more projects in our future! :)

-C

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Reflections on Home Ownership

This time last year, if you’d told me to enjoy the days of apartment living, I probably would have smacked you. As the little sister and youngest of all my cousins, I’ve always been the last to reach the levels on the life-event barometer: when I was in high school, my sister had started university. When I started university, my sister found her first job. When I was still in university (#gradstudentproblems) my sister got married and then bought her first house. You get the idea! I’m always so anxious to get to the next step that sometimes I forget to just be and enjoy where I’m at.

firstiwasdying

I moved out of my parents home at 18, so I spent 10 years renting. I lived in 5 units in 2 cities with 3 roommates- the last of whom would eventually become my husband. I hand-washed countless dishes and suffered through sharing laundry facilities, walls, ventilation, bed bugs, and hot water with strangers. While I anxiously waited for our future home, I kept myself busy with various projects, like sewing elbow patches on my favourite old sweater, attending DIY workshops, and making canvas prints using acetone transfers.

don't rush anything

But it’s funny how you gain perspective on things. As much as I couldn’t wait to get out of that apartment and become a proper grown up with a mortgage, I’ve caught myself thinking wistfully of all the time I used to have to devote to things like sewing, crafting, shopping, and flea market hunting. I also used to think our apartment looked really great, and I loved how easy it was to decorate. Now I find myself feeling a little overwhelmed with the larger space and it’s hard coming up with a cohesive look, not to mention keeping things tidy when we’re basically living in a construction zone 24/7.

As exciting as it is to know that we can do whatever we want with our house, I can’t wave a magic wand to make it happen overnight. It takes a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, and a lot of time (not to mention $$$). And all those jobs start to feel like just that- jobs. I can’t even remember the last time I had my sewing machine out for fun. Whenever I get a burst of productive energy, I notice the holes that I never patched or the paint that needs to be touched up. So my old Janome will have to sit dormant a little while longer, and even then it will probably only get to hem the curtains in the guest room.

make the days count

I’m definitely guilty of wishing my life away; I’m so impatient for the next big thing that will happen in my life that I forget to slow down and enjoy where I’m at. Living in the moment and being grateful for what I have, instead of comparing myself to others and feeling shortchanged, is something I really need to work on. And even though it took many stressful months to find our house, while we weathered the storm of my husband’s career change and felt the disappointment of making an offer on a completely different house that eventually fell through, I know that all the waiting was worth it- that other house would have been a strain financially and wouldn’t have been as good a fit as the house we did buy. I really do believe that everything happens for a reason!

no shortcuts

So if you’re out there reading this and you’re feeling like I was before we bought our house, like you can’t wait to put your own personal stamp on your space and you hate every minute of renting, know that it will happen in time. Enjoy the benefits of renting, and use the time to save up for your downpayment and reno fund. Cherish the phone calls to your landlord about the crack in the ceiling or the leaky faucet, and crack open a beer while you watch them fix it… because one day it will be your problem!

-C

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Spring/Summer To-Do List

This worked so well for the winter that I thought I’d do it again! I love making lists, and the satisfaction I get from crossing stuff off of it motivates me just enough to keep going. Our summer is going to be mostly taken up by digging up and water proofing our foundation, which is pretty much the least exciting thing ever to blog about. So I might be kind of quiet here in the coming weeks, and will mostly be busy digging, moving plants, and making sandwiches for the horde of people helping us.

Here’s what I’m hoping to get done, in between resting my sore back. I reserve the right to add, subtract, or modify at will.

  1. Put the finishing touches on the kitchen. Do you recall from my One Room Challenge reveal post that our flooring didn’t come in on time? It actually came in the day after the ORC deadline. *shakes fist* Just imagine how good this will look with charcoal grey rectangular tiles!One Room Challenge Kitchen Dear DIYWe also need to install the last light fixture and order our new fridge, which we are super stoked about. A new fridge was not in our reno budget this year but my parents offered to foot the bill because they’re awesome (and would like somewhere to put a champagne bottle that dispenses ice when they come over).
  2. Finish our master bedroom. Now that our carpets are installed, our room just needs some pictures on the walls and the closet doors back up. Bonus points if we manage to find a new bed frame- I’m on the lookout for something with straight lines, but we haven’t decided yet if we will buy or DIY.
  3. Hem the curtains in the guest room and set it up for actual guests (not just my cat). No, you’re not experiencing déjà vu, this just never got done on my Winter list. It’s even worse now since we got the carpets installed, because everything had to come out of there and we had to take apart the bed to get it out the door, so that is currently in pieces in the middle of the floor with the mattress leaned up against the wall. Not an ideal sleeping position! I’d actually really like to have some sort of a desk station inside the closet where I can store all my sewing stuff. My mom always had her sewing desk inside a closet and it worked really well, for both organization and hiding the mess when you need to!
    closet sewing station

  4. Bring my style board to life in the living room and install window treatments- yup, this got bumped from the Winter list, too! One of my neighbors “casually” mentioned that she noticed we don’t have curtains up yet- welcome to small town Ontario! I love all the natural light that comes in since tearing down the old curtains but I’d like to put something up that will give us a bit of privacy without compromising the light too much. I really love the look of a natural woven fiber blind with white panels and will probably go that route.
  5. Restain the solid maple dresser I scored off Kijiji last year. My husband has been using a horrible small MDF dresser since I have known him (2007). His boxers and undershirts have to be folded in a specific way to fit inside it and it drives be bananas! I’m going to stain it with leftover Special Walnut stain from my dresser makeover.DSC_1622_
  6. This will probably get bumped off the priority list and might only get done next summer… but I’d love to do something with our sunroom. Right now it’s full of stuff that we moved out of the bedrooms during the carpet installation, but we’ve got our old sectional sofa in there along with a cute little table that I found at the ReStore and it has the potential to be awesome. It would be a great space to enjoy an afternoon nap or a cold drink- I can imagine euchre tournaments and board games happening here with friends.sunroom_bright

The one great thing about having a long list of stuff to do is that I can pick and choose what I want to work on, depending on my mood and productivity level! It really is amazing how much work there is to do around the house- any house, not just ours. I’m grateful that we only have 1100 square feet of space because we already spend so much time just cleaning and maintaining it, let along the time it takes to do all the projects we want to do!

Hope you come along for the ride,

-C

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Living Room MCM-Inspired Style Board

Mid-century modern (MCM) style is definitely having a moment right now, and Chairish is curating style boards from bloggers featuring items from their MCM collection. I stumbled on the Chairish site a while back and thought it looked really cool- kind of like a cross between my favourite second-hand shops, Home Sense, and Etsy all in one.

Since I’m thinking of tackling my living room next, I thought I’d put a style board together for what I’d like the room to look like. I built it around a few central pieces: our sofa, a cowhide rug that I’ve been wanting for ages, and a pair of truly awesome blue velvet chairs (that I definitely do not have the budget for, but a girl can dream, right?).

Ikea KIVIK loveseat and chaisecowhide blue velvet armchairs

After that, I looked out for fun accent pieces by pulling colours from the artwork we have in our living room: a photo print by Greg Taylor that my sister bought us, which was taken in the park we got engaged in, and a limited edition print of Tom Thomson’s Silver Birches.

Greg Taylor Photography Bell Park Photograph

Here is how I combined those items for my MCM-inspired living room style board:

layout

The great thing about MCM style is that it lends itself really well to mixing and matching different styles, finishes, textures, and colours, which is something I’ve always done. I remember once in university I was wearing brown shoes with a black belt and one of my friends tentatively asked, “Um, can you do that?” and I responded that clearly I could, because I was!

As you can tell by this layout, I think it’s perfectly OK to mix black, brown, and grey. Here, I mixed black pieces (the floor lamp, chevron pillow, accent rug, and bone box) and a warm medium brown (the cowhide, storage unit, and bar cart/side table) with our grey sofa thrown in the middle. To add in some colour and textural interest, I chose blue velvet arm chairs and colourful throw pillows in different patterns. The teal patchwork pillow is also cowhide; repeating textures is another trick to keep the overall design cohesive.

Here’s another look, this time with a numbered source guide included.

layout_numbered

  1. Chrome lamp / Chairish
  2. Bar cart / Chairish
  3. Sofa / IKEA
  4. Throw pillows / Pier 1 and Etsy
  5. Art work / IKEA
  6. Throw pillow / Pier 1
  7. Floor lamp / Canada Lighting Experts
  8. Entertainment console / Chairish
  9. Rug / IKEA
  10. Bone accent box / Chairish
  11. Brown cowhide rug / Pure Rugs
  12. Blue velvet armchairs / Chairish
  13. Accent pillow / Pier 1

Creating style boards is a great way to plan out your vision for a space, and it was a fun exercise to browse Chairish with an imaginary budget! Their services are not yet available in Canada, but if you’re lucky enough to live close to the border, there are ways around that. Now I have a great starting point and I know what to look out for to complete our living room- if only it was as easy to actually make it a reality!

Note: this post is not sponsored. I’m not affiliated with Chairish or any of the companies featured in this post. Links to sources are current as of the post date, but may no longer be available.

-C

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