Our Kitchen and “Dining Room” Mood Board

It’s been almost a week since my last post! Blame my Spring Break in Mexico. I did do a bit while I was down there, but it just seemed wasteful to sit inside in front of a screen when I could step outside to the beach.

I did, of course, still think of my next few blog posts, and opted to share my mood board with you all. (There’s only so many projects to share when you are leaving your current place, but more to come, I promise!) The last one I made for our bedroom (feel free to check it out here) I made on my own, but this time I tried out the site Olioboard. Let me tell you, completely worth it! I worried they wouldn’t have enough furniture to choose from, but they had more than enough inspiration. (And no, they didn’t pay me to say this, I just wanted to share my find with you!)

Here’s my plan for the room, with the sources listed below. I’ve love to hear your opinions!


1. We’ll be making our own salvaged shelves to add some much needed storage (check out my sneak peak!). This one is from West Elm.

2. A few posts back I wrote about the jar decals I made from our Ikea containers that will house our sugars and flours. This one is from West Elm as well. (I’ve got a bit of a thing for that store…)

3. White dishes from Crate and Barrel, but I have similar ones to display from Costco. I think they’ll really pop against the dark colour (instead of the white on white on white and you see in the mood board…)

4. I plan on reusing most of the pillows I have now with updated fabric (why buy new when I can reuse?), but I’m liking the idea of a monochrome colour scheme with different patterns. These pillows are from: (left to right) Layla Grayce, One Kings Lane, Layla Grayce and My Two Designers.

5. This is a stand in for the dark grey accent wall I (ie Shaun most likely) will be painting. (I’ll let you know what the final colour choice is!)

6. You’ll notice #6 appears twice on the mood board. I want to switch out the hardware in the kitchen, but I can’t decide which way to go. I’m leaning toward gold (these are actual brass door knobs, since they didn’t have any gold knobs on Olioboard), since I’m on a gold and white kick, but I’ve loved crystal knobs for ages… Thoughts?

7. These chairs from Dwell are fairly close to my current chairs from Craigslist. I just used these to make sure I didn’t have too much white in the space.

8. I found the exact table I (also bought) off Craigslist! This one is from Crate and Barrel.

9. Like I said, I’m loving gold and white. I think a gold bowl could add a nice touch… which of course, if I do end up with one, will most likely be DIY’ed. I couldn’t possibly justify the 90 dollar price tag from Zinc Door for this one…

10. My lovely bf is going to make me a (less elaborate) version of this bench. Happily, now that I see the mood board, white is the way to go! (Crate and Barrel)

11. I love this mirror from My Two Designers, but I don’t think I’d have the room (or the budget!) for it. I just threw it in there to see if the wrought iron would fit into the scheme.This one again, is way out of my budget at $1000 (!).

12. I knew I wanted the accent wall and shelves, but I wasn’t entirely sure of the colour scheme… This rug was my helpful jumping off point. (Zinc Door).

I will most definitely be posting more in the coming weeks! Big plans…


Our To Do List

I’m a total list lover. Cleaning to do lists, chore to do lists, teaching to do lists… I just find it easier to tackle large projects when I have it all laid out visually in front of me. So much less daunting to work on a small section rather than trying for the whole thing! Since I’m pretty obsessive over making a rental a home, creating a list of projects I want to tackle just makes sense.

Of course, since it’s a rental, each task is either transportable, (our shelves, our bench, our hutch…) or that we can at least change it back to its original state (like our paint colour). Again, my main goals for the space:

1. Create efficient storage in this small space.

2. Add style and charm to my blank slate.

Feel free to skim, or just check out my pretty inspiration photos!

House to do list

Kitchen and “Dining” (i.e. my little 7′ by 7′ kitchen nook)

  • Replace hardware
  • Add one or two new rugs (to cover up our ugly lino)
  • Paint an accent wall in the eating area
  • Make a bench and coordinating cushions
  • Hang salvaged wood shelves (check out my sneak peak)
  • Decide on artwork (if needed)
  • Create storage systems

Dana from House Tweaking has certainly inspired my colour selection for this home! I’ve been obsessed with charcoal grey for a while now, but I never thought about putting it up on the walls.


I’d like our bench to look something like this:

  • Buy an area rug
  • Buy storage boxes for our coffee table
  • Hang artwork
  • Possibly paint an accent wall
  • Make drapes and curtain rods
  • Refinish our recently purchased Craigslist hutch
  • Buy salvaged corbels or something similar for added character

I like the idea of going with a bold pattered rug like this one:



  • Replace cabinet hardware
  • Build a (removable) mirror frame
  • Replace the faucet (it’s pretty awful… Old, cheap, mismatched knobs)
  • Create a storage system for under the sink
  • Hang artwork
  • Update the light fixture?
  • Hang extra shelves?
  • Add a small bathroom rug?

My dad made a shelf like this, and I saw one a few days later on Pinterest. Such a great use of vertical space!



  • Paint or stencil an accent wall
  • Decide on art for above our headboard
  • Build nightstands
  • Full length mirror: either buy a new one or frame out our existing one

I’m thinking of stencilling behind the headboard like this one, but I’m not sure if I’ll attempt such a large expanse of wall…



  • Replace closet hardware
  • Buy a runner (I’m thinking of this one)
  • Hang artwork
  • Add a shelf or small table as a landing spot for keys and other small items
  • Create hall closet storage system (which really could take up a few bullet points in and of itself)

Here’s one of my all-time favourite house tours from Apartment Therapy. To think, hers is the same size as mine, but just looks gorgeous!


Surprising how long a list can be for a small 625 sq ft apartment… I can’t wait to cross some off! What about you? How do you go about designing a space? Mood boards, Pinterest, lists, Room Makers?

A Couple Quick Packing Tips

I would (unfortunately) consider myself to be a seasoned mover. Since I moved out of my parents’ home almost eight years ago, I honestly haven’t lived in one spot for more than eight months. Blame it on university and travel (and our puppy). I never rented a place while backpacking, so off it all went back into storage at my parents’ place.

Want the final count?

14. Yup, 14 moves, which averages about twice a year. I’ve been told this doesn’t make me a good tenant…

Anyway, this one will be different. I’m tired of moving. I’m settled (more or less) in my life now. I’m actually happy living in one city. Until we buy, this is looking like our home!
Here are a few of the tips I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Wrap breakables in towels or linen instead of paper. Why?
  • It’s more sustainable
  • They offer more cushioning than paper does
  • Towels need to be packed somewhere anyway
  • You don’t get newspaper ink on your fingers!

First layer:

Towel Packing 1

Top layer

Towel Packing 2

2. Try to pack with some sort of organization system. You can pack objects together in terms of where they will be in your new house, but I like to group items together from where it they were in our old one. For example, we’re moving from a two bedroom into a basic one bedroom apartment. I’m still packing everything we kept in the second bedroom together, even though they’ll be spread out around our new house. Why?
  • It makes for easier packing. Obviously.
  • More importantly however, it also helps me remember where I put things. If I can’t think of where that pair of shoes is, I can still picture what closet I had it in the last place, and search around in that closet’s box.
3. Get a ton of free moving boxes from your local grocery or veggie store. I always need more than I anticipated, and it’s annoying to spend time rushing out to get a few more. I’ve recently tried the vegetable store chain Kim’s Farm Market: so many boxes, and much cleaner and stronger than some grocery stores I’ve tried in the past.
You definitely don’t need to spend money on new boxes at Staples. Again, reuse!
4. If ever you do end up packing the odd thing in a random box (it certainly happens to me, at least when I’m losing steam at the end of a move) write it down somewhere accessible (I use my iPhone). This way, I can refer to my list when I’m on the hunt for some random object down the road!
Any strategies you’ve found especially helpful? I still have a few more boxes to go, so I’d love to hear them!
Packing Tips

Our New Apartment: How Does It Measure Up?

Ugh… We’re clearly in moving mode. Here’s the view of our second bedroom I saw this morning:

moving boxes

Eek. Hopefully that helps you to appreciate your home if you’re nice and settled in when reading this. (Even though we move in March 29th, we’re going to Mexico for a week over my spring break so we’ve already started packing.)

I thought I’d take this time to look at how our new place measures up to our wishlist. Because I’m getting quite obsessed excited about moving, I went to go see our place for a second time to snap some photos and measure out our space (read: take a ton of pictures of each possible corner!). Pardon the Iphone pics; I didn’t want to look too crazy showing up three weeks early to see the landlord with my clunky DSLR slung along my shoulder.

Here was our original list:


Light is one of the number one qualities I look for in an apartment. It is SO important to me. This unit faces south with plenty of large windows, so it scored a 9! Here’s a shot of our living room:


Location: 8/10. It’s easy to get to work, super close to a number of great neighbourhoods, but it isn’t quite as close to shops as it would need to be to score a 10.

Transit: 8/10. Pretty close to our metro system and frequent buses are right around the corner.

Dishwasher: Yes! Apartment sized, but I’m fine with that!


Parking: super cheap municipal parking, so that’s easy too. All in all, it meets our top requirements with flying colours, and that’s why we chose it.


Well… It’s practical, but not as pretty as I would have liked. My biggest sacrifice would be those dated floors. Beige carpet and old lino isn’t exactly my idea of character and style. I’ll have to work on that.

Ease of access to the outside: 8/10


It’s on the ground floor, which was I was hoping for to make life easier with a dog. The photo shown above is the view from our living room. For a home in the city, it also offers a fair bit of privacy and greenery without sacrificing sunlight.


It even has a patio! Great for Bali, my DIY projects, and maybe some summertime entertaining. Too bad our neighbours are hoarding more than a few unsightly items next door… I guess that’s part of high-density living.

Closets and storage: 6/10. There are two good sized closets and a storage locker, but that kitchen is TINYWorking on small space functional storage is another one of my main goals in the space.

Laundry and fireplace: These were bonus points really. There is paid laundry on the floor, and the unit doesn’t have a fireplace. Can’t have everything I suppose.

Cleanliness: 8/10. This was also a big selling feature for me. Even though the apartment isn’t new by any stretch, it’s been really well maintained and cleaned. I’m thinking it will be easier to add style that make up for ill-cared for rooms.

The overall room scores were… average. We’re working with a plain apartment, but hey, blank slate!

Bedroom: 6/10 Decent space and closet, but again, those carpets…


Kitchen and dining: 5/10. The apartment is clean and has newer appliances, but it’s small and the counter and floors have seen better days. I do appreciate the designated “dining” space however.


Living room: 7/10. Nice size, and great windows! Again, here’s my picture:


Bathroom… oh, the bathroom… 4/10.


Very little storage, ugly floors, and that TILE! I thought the toilet was pink too, but thankfully it’s been updated.

All in all, it was a practical choice within our budget, so we took it. Suffice to say, it needs some work, but that will just make for more entertaining blog posts, right? Haha that’s the hope anyway. My two main goals are:

1. Create efficient storage in this small space (it’s less than 650 sq ft.).

2. Add style and charm to my blank slate (and make up for some of those floors!).

To keep the inspiration (and my motivation) during our packing this week, I’ll be posting our to-do list and our mood boards. It will be worth it. It will be worth it. It will be worth it…

What about you? What are you willing to sacrifice? What can’t you live without? Location, space, design?

Glass Decal Labels

Hours spent reading I Heart Organizing has made me (embarrassingly) obsessed over pretty labels. I just don’t want to buy, or have to store, any of the fancy equipment to make them. When I saw this pin on from the Painted Hive a while ago (nothing special needed!), I was inspired!


As geeky as it might be, I love the look of uniform jars on display, especially with personalized labels. I’ve been thinking about trying it for a while, but it was my new shelves that motivated me to actually do it!

This project would be perfect for a few storage items in my kitchen. First off, I wanted to create storage for my sugar and flour. Currently, my enormous bad of flour from Costco is sitting in our corner cabinet behind some small appliances and is impossibly heavy to lift. So instead of taking it out, I reach in with a measuring cup, grab as much as I can, and spill some on the way out. Not ideal.

I plan on using a couple Ikea Burken jars I own that currently house our puppy treats:

Before 3

Ok, but I think they have more potential.

I also wanted to update our spice rack. At the moment I have them labelled with a dry erase marker. I used this just in case I ever decide to switch out the spice, but the writing just ends up rubbing off whenever I pick one up.

Before 1

Before 2

I’ve been slowly building up my spice stash. After using them for the last year, I have a much better idea of what spices need to be within easy reach, and so I feel more confident creating more permanent labels.


Note: Unlike the Painted Hive, I only used the decals, not the magic paper, to make it permanent. I would certainly advise using magic paper as well if you plan on doing this to any often-washed dish. Since I’ll always have the same spice/sugar in the jar, I don’t foresee having to wash them all that frequently. Plus, if ever I do feel the need to switch it up, by using decals without the magic paper, I still have the freedom to do so.

1. I bought Avery Clear Decals, made specifically for glass or other smooth surfaces, from Staples for around $12.

2. Because it requires an ink jet printer, finding a printer was the most difficult part of this project! After a lot of hassle, I gave up and used my laser printer. It was ok for now, but I can foresee the decal rubbing off fairly quickly. For a more permanent finish, I would certainly advise using the correct printer. I chose the image I wanted, and printed it out. You’re welcome to contact me in the comment section if you’d like a copy!


3. I thoroughly cleaned and dried each jar.

3. Then, I cut them up and pasted them on! That easy. It was a little tricky peeling the paper, but that was it honestly.

Although I was annoyed trying to find a printer, the end result was worth it.



I often read that your space should be unique and truly reflect you. French has always been such a love of mine (my grandmother was French Canadian, I’ve spoken it my whole life, I did my degree in it, and now I teach it!) so I thought it would be fun to incorporate it into my baking containers:

Farine 5

(I didn’t do this for my spices just in case, on the off chance, Shaun decides he’d like to cook with them. This is a very rare occurrence, but you never know! I know he’ll never bake though, and flour versus sugar is pretty self-explanatory.)

Farine 2Farine 1

As a side note, for this project I tried different props, lighting, angles… I’m pretty sure Shaun thinks I’m completely crazy for spending so much time taking pictures of flour.

I can’t wait to see our updated Ikea baking jars on our new shelves. What about you? Any projects you’ve been dying to try? Anything you’ve found especially helpful or inspiring? I’m always happy to hear from you!

Pinterest decals

I’m linking up with:

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Salvaged Wood Shelves: Sneak Peak

Our new place is very… functional. It checks off a number of our requirements (pet-friendly, ground floor, outdoor space, lots of light, south facing, dishwasher…) but it’s bland. White walls, beige carpets, builder basics- no character to speak of. I figured character was easier to add to a space than it would be to clean up an uncared for old apartment, so we opted for this one. To add some personality, I have a few DIY projects lined up…

The first of these are my salvaged wood shelves. I’m not usually exceptionally keen on wood furniture (much to Shaun’s dismay, I generally prefer to paint it all white!) but seeing as we don’t have wood floors, I wanted to add some rustic warmth to the space. I’ve found a few inspiration photos on Pinterest to share with you:



Aren’t they pretty? I thought they would be a great addition to our apartment for a few reasons: a) The kitchen is TINY and needs extra storage b) shelves are considerably cheaper than buying another piece of furniture c) they can show off my favourite dishes in the little kitchen nook area and d) they would definitely add interest to my boring walls.

Lucky for me, Shaun’s painting company had some extra pieces of wood lying around. If you had told me when I was a teenager that I would spend time in my twenties leafing through piles of old wood, I would not have believed you! I never understood why my dad did it, and here I am doing the same thing. Anyway. If you’re looking for salvaged wood and don’t have easy access to it, check out How Get Free Reclaimed Lumber from About.com. I even came across some free planks today in my neighbourhood from a new house they’re building down the street. It pays to keep an eye out for these kinds of things. For even more inspiration, check out Brooklyn to West‘s headboard made out of rescued wood from a church!

Here are the pieces we settled on:


(Don’t mind the poor quality; these were taken on my Iphone in a dark garage.) I think they have potential!


Since the colour of the beams was a bit bland, I wanted to enhance them while preserving the dings and varied colour in the wood. After a great deal of thought on how to treat it between staining, waxing and varnishing, (by this I mean asking Shaun every few minutes and me bringing a sample to a dinner party for more opinions!), I opted to varnish it.

I started by giving both planks a very light sand with a piece 220 grit sand paper, just to avoid any slivers in the future. It’s tough to tell the difference in the photo, but I just sanded until the beams were smooth when I ran my fingers over them. Of course, whenever you sand, make sure to do so with the grain, and not against it, to avoid scratching the surface.


Bali loves to hang out with me, especially when I do new and exciting things like painting… She kept photo bombing so I decided to take a few of her too!

Bali photo bomb 2

 Bali photo bomb

Somehow I don’t think she was all that enthused.

As my planks were salvaged by a painting company, there were drops of paint here and there. I kept a few minor ones, but the conspicuous ones I simply picked off with an exacto knife and sanded down. I didn’t worry too much about making it perfect, since it would just blend in to the other imperfections in the piece.

Before varnishing, I wiped the wood down with a rag to get rid of all the sawdust. With a regular paintbrush, I painted on a thin coat of varnish, making sure to wipe any run-off along the sides. Here’s what I used:

To keep an even coat, made sure the surface I was varnishing was flat, meaning I was moving the board to its side or on its end, depending upon what area I was working on. Honestly, it was easy. I purposely chose wood that had imperfections, so who cares if I mess up the varnish a bit? All part of the charm. When I finished, it looked like this:

Wet varnish

Hmm… I was sceptical about how it would turn out since it was so shiny and a bit of the yellow side in comparison to what I had envisioned. Thankfully, when the varnish dries it’s considerably more subtle. Here’s what it looks like now that it’s dried in our spare room for the last few hours:

 shelves sneak peak Shelves sneak peak

Still a work in progress, but I’m encouraged! I bought these black steel brackets to hang them:

I can’t wait to see the beams up against a dark grey wall with my favourite glassware and crisp white dishes!

Total cost:

Since the lumber and varnish was at already at our fingertips, the only thing I needed were brackets, which I bought from Rona (basically the Canadian version of Lowe’s, I believe) for 5.50 each, and I bought 4. With tax, my total came to $25.

However, recreating these shelves without knowing a painter would still be budget friendly: find the wood from a barn or around your neighbourhood, get a can of varnish from Home Depot for around 15, and you’re still looking at a 40 dollar project. Not bad for some badly needed style and storage in a small space.

Keep in touch for the reveal when we move in early April!

Ikea Hack: Aläng Lamp

Shaun and I were under the impression we would be able to move into our new apartment this weekend, but unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding. The building manager said we could move in early, on Friday, but she didn’t mean this Friday, she meant the last one of the month, being March 29th. Disappointing, but understandable. Here I was already picking out paint colours (oh yes, we’ll have a few feature walls!), deciding on a stain for some shelves we’re going to install…. but I’ll have to put those musings on hold. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few existing projects I’ve already finished.

One quick, cheap and easy DIY is the update I made to one my table lamps:


(As an aside, why did they put the outlet so high? I realize it makes cords simpler to plug in, but it’s not exactly attractive. Oh well.)

I got this Ikea lamp at a Thrift Store last year for a little under ten bucks, and I could just tell it was originally from Ikea, where it retails for $20:

Pretty good deal, but it was a little… boring. Every place I’ve lived in tends to have wall colour in the taupe to white range, so this off-white colour just blends right in. I read in Young House Love’s book that an easy way to add a bit of personality to a shade would be to add ribbon.

Lamp close up

I found this navy blue ribbon at Fabricland for 50% off, so it ended up costing me about three dollars. First, I measured the length I would need to go around the bottom of the shade, and trimmed off a bit more. To stop the edges from fraying (quick tip I learned from wearing point shoes growing up), I melted them with the flame from a lighter.

Lamp bottom

Then, using a glue gun, I secured it to the bottom of lamp, making sure to line it up with the bottom edge of the shade, as well as its subtle pattern. You can see in the image above that the ribbon lines up with the line going through the shade, which ensures my line will be straight the whole way around. I made sure to use the minimum amount of glue needed so that it wouldn’t show through the ribbon. The ribbon gave an easy sharp edge, so I didn’t bother tucking it under the shade; I just made sure I couldn’t see any of the shade underneath. I followed the same steps on top.


I worried the glue would melt with the heat of the bulb over time, but I’ve had this for a couple months and haven’t had a problem! I love the nautical feel of the navy, and how well it echoes the stripes on my chair.

Cost breakdown:

Lamp: $8

Ribbon: $3

Total: An easy $11! It took me less than an hour to do too. Now just imagine it with a bold dark gray feature wall behind it… I can’t wait!