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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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