My Awesome Vintage Find

What did you get up to this weekend? Any updates on your home? Manage to get any progress done on some of your projects?

I made progress on quite a few, but none are quite complete at this moment. That being said, I just HAD to share my newest DIY project purchase that I am way too excited about!

Quick intro: I really can’t stand television. I know many people find this strange. I just hate the thought of endlessly and mindlessly watching tv, and especially can’t stand the noise of it in the background. Shaun, on the other hand, is a complete tv-lover. Knows of every show, follows a number of them and can name a pop culture reference on a dime. (I of course rarely catch them.) We haven’t ever owned a television together, but finally, I acquiesced. He’s such a Canuck fan, I guess he needs one.

However… A new tv also means new tv furniture. Now you have me interested!

I’ve contemplated what style to choose for quite a while. If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed more than a few mid-century modern credenzas popping up on my boards.

I’ve been on the hunt for a while, when finally… Saturday morning… I found it!

Craigslist ad Credenza

Love!

I had seen so many refinished pieces for upwards of $700 (to $1400!), so for $100, I was sold! I don’t know the full “story” behind it, but the girl I bought it from said her aunt found it at antique store in the Okanagan (about 4 hours east of Vancouver). That’s enough character for me!

The thing weighs a TON, but we managed to get it into our living room.

Mid-Century Modern Credenza Before  

(As you can see from this picture, our living room is far from finished. I definitely want to ditch the crooked Ikea lamp, and I want to alter my chair’s slipcover so that it touches the ground.)

It’s solid and well-made, but is certainly showing signs of wear and tear:

Credenza close up

The top is in worse shape with water stains, wax and more than a few scratches.

I did manage to get the wax off (I literally just spent a while scratching them all off with my nails) and even got rid of the surface stains! Magic eraser can work WONDERS.

Before:

Sticker mark

After a few minutes of scrubbing:

Sticker mark is gone

I worried Magic Eraser would ruin the finish or the stain of the wood, so I tested in on more than a few inconspicuous spots. As a quick tip, if ever you use it to clean old furniture, make sure to wipe it off with rag once you’re done. I didn’t at first, and with the thin coat of caulky white that remained, I worried that I had ruined the finish! I wiped it off, and thankfully, I hadn’t.

What other steps do I plan on doing to make it work for us?

1. I’ll probably sand it down to get rid of the rings and deep scratches, at least on the top.

2. I’ll refinish it in some way, but I’ll have to wait to see how it looks once it’s sanded. I’m not sure if I’ll have to stain the sanded areas to match the rest of the piece… Hopefully not.

I thought about staining it a darker colour, but I actually like the more vintage look it has now. It works well with some of my baskets and my salvaged shelves. I know I’ll be varnishing or oiling it (something along those lines) as the wood is dry dry dry.

3. I don’t know if you noticed in the first picture, but there is just a mess of wires behind the credenza. I’ll need to create a system to deal with all the paraphernalia that comes with a TV… Some of it will include drilling into the back of the piece so that certain boxes can be tucked away in one of the storage areas. (Can you call them boxes? Systems? Units? I don’t care to know anything about them really.)

Credenza full

A bit of a list… But I think it will be so worth it in the end. I’m happy to be able to find unique pieces and give them new life. More character and more sustainable.

Just for fun, I thought I’d include one of my inspiration photos to show how lovely mid-century modern credenzas can be!

Beautiful, right?

I’ll be sure to share the process with you all as it comes along! Check back Wednesday for my latest organizing post :)

I’m linking up with:

Not Just A Housewife

What a Gem! My Five Favourite Finds of the Week

Every week I have grand plans of projects I hope to accomplish on the weekend, but somehow these goals tend to be pushed aside… I see friends and family, I take Bali for a big excursion (gotta make up for the lack of backyard in this place), I have errands to take care of, I force myself to exercise… (Or let’s be honest, I end up shopping a large part of the time…) I discover so many lovely ideas and projects during the week and I thought Fridays would be the perfect opportunity to share them. Maybe it will help to motivate me, and hopefully you, to take on a project we’ve been neglecting for the last little while! 

1. This is a perfect week to start this feature because one of my (and, odds are, one of your) favourite blogs, Young House Love launched a new project this week: YHL Forums! I really have no idea how they manage to pull off all the work they do, just the two of them. Amazing really.

It’s basically a platform to discuss all your decorating and DIYing: show off what you’ve worked on, ask any questions you might have for other readers… If you know of Reddit, it basically seems like a version meant for DIY geeks like me. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about it. I can already see countless addictive hours spent there!

2. If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed my washi tape wall pin:

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Such a great idea to add colour to a space you may not be allowed (or have the energy) to paint. You could really have fun with the patterns: stripes, squares or any bold geometric. I’m thinking this could be a fun and faster alternative to stencilling my front entrance wall. We’ll see…

3. I’m loving the look of this rustic wood table:

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If I had the space for it, I think this could make an awesome DIY! You could follow the same idea I used on our salvaged wood shelves, but of course on a much larger scale.

4. Lately I’ve read a few different articles highlighting the idea of taking off cabinet doors to refresh your kitchen. This one’s from BHG.

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This is great for renters as it can lighten up your space without having to make too challenging or permanent a change. I didn’t think ours needed it because of the shelves we installed, but I think it could easily help in an ugly dated kitchen. Especially with some pretty paper lining the back…

5. And to finish on a high note for renters:

Kate from Centsational Girl published her latest article in her Solutions for Renters series yesterday. This time, she’s focusing on the bathroom.

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(I mean really, anything you can do to help out that super dated yellow sink? I’m all ears.)

I was especially happy to see this one pop up on my wordpress reader today as I’ve been brainstorming ways to cheer up our beige/pink bathroom once the ceiling is fixed. (You can read more about that little issue here.) I’ll definitely be looking to this article for inspiration!

Hopefully this motivates you as much as it does for me. Feel free to share any projects you’re working on, and make sure to come back Monday to see what I’ve been up to!

Landlords: Rental Building or Homeowner?

A chat with the building drywall guy in my bathroom last week got me thinking.

Yup, you heard that right, we haven’t even lived here a month and we already have people coming in to repair our place. I guess that’s life sometimes… A few weeks before we moved in, I came by to check out the unit again and snap a few (meaning a ton) of pics. Here’s what our bathroom looked like:

Bathroom before

Other than the less-than-ideal tile and tub colour, looks fine. Little did I know, the ceiling was already falling apart.

A few weeks later, it turned into this:

Bathroom Ceiling Hole Ceiling Hole

Yikes.

After a few weeks of waiting for the problem to be resolved, repairs were started a little over a week ago. I then found myself discussing how much of the ceiling should be replaced with this guy. (Umm… all of it, because it’s coated in a thin sheet of mold?)

Every rental, older units especially, are going to have problems. Who will handle it better? The building manager hired by the company who owns dozens of similar properties? The homeowner who lives upstairs? Someone closer to the middle of the spectrum? Is there a difference?

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I’ve lived in quite a few different rentals and witnessed friends’ states of affairs…  I’ve also worked for the university housing department as an administrative assistant to five different building managers. (Not the most glam job, but at least I learned a thing or two.) I’m certainly no expert, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject.

If you’ve been to college, you know that arts students get quite a bit of heat for being in the “easy” (and “no future”) faculty. (In case you’re wondering, I started out in commerce, but made the switch to arts in year two. Totally worth it.) That rep is partially valid since it’s relatively easy to pass an arts class, but it is CHALLENGING to get a high mark. Fields like science and engineering are the opposite. The range is much more varied. Many will fail, but, if you know the material well, you can earn yourself a stellar mark.

This analogy applies to landlords. Individual homeowners are the science faculties. Some will be abysmal: only interested in the money and trying to have them keep up with maintenance on their home will be like pulling teeth. Others will be lovely. For example, a friend of mine is a quiet, single and clean tenant, also an elementary teacher. Her landlords love her and take good care of their house, so they will go out of their way to keep her. When she had a leak in her bathroom like mine, they replaced the whole thing*. They took her choices into consideration, and fixed it within a weekend.

Building managers are the arts faculties. Of course they’ll pass: there are way too many systems in place (at least in Vancouver), like the rental board, the company’s reputation and so forth, not to. Problems, at least major ones, will be tended to… in good time. They have the maintenance people available already; they’ve fixed countless units before yours.

The catch?

Being on the other end of this, I’ve seen how busy these people can be. There can be countless work orders just like yours waiting to be tended to. Small leaks in the faucet, carpets that need to be repaired, little holes in the wall… Those ones can take a while for the maintenance staff to get to.

What’s more, a building manager generally doesn’t have a vested interest in the building like an actual owner would. Will they get more cash from potential tenants from a classier upgrade? Probably not. Does it matter to them if the paint splashes onto the tile? Doubtful.

Not only have that, but upgrades in buildings that are owned by one person or company tend to happen all at once. That means if you’d like your tiles to be replaced like my friend’s place, the building would (generally) need to have that scheduled, for all units. If it isn’t (like my bathroom, by the looks of it) they’ll just do whatever it takes to get the job done.

(What did that look like in our building? Yet another shade of beige of tile to add to our collection. This makes four. Nice.)

So which type do you choose? The arts faculty building manager, whom you know will do the minimum but won’t go out of their way to please you, or the couple who live upstairs, who, more like an engineering faculty, could do really well, or really really poorly?

There’s no real “right” answer of course. It depends on your needs, and of course the individual landlord in question. Hopefully this will give you a basic guideline to help you in your search.

What happened with our bathroom you ask? Well… needless to say, nearly a month after told our landlord about it (we moved in March 29th), it’s still a work in progress. The plumber has fixed the leak, but the drywall guy is supposed to come by tomorrow to redo the ceiling. (No more mold!) Fingers crossed… I’ll keep you posted.

A Couple New Blog Pages

Quick little post tonight to introduce a new feature! I’ve been working “behind the scenes” on L’amour chez nous to make it simpler to find previous posts.

In addition to the About Me section above, you’ll also find a Projects and Organize page. There you’ll find a gallery of links related to each topic. As my blog grows, I’ll make sure to update them! In the next couple weeks I’ll also be adding another page to feature our home tour (eek… very much in progress!) as well as a layout to give you a better feel for our place.

Feel free to come by tomorrow to read about what to expect from a landlord “type”! Ahh the life of a renter…

Clean Out the Paper Clutter: Managing our Mail

Hi there fellow pinner! So lovely of you to drop by. Who knew mail sorting could be so intriguing? You’re welcome to check it out here, but I encourage you to check it out instead on my sparkling new siteI’m happy to say that this system still works super well for us, even months later!

A little while ago I started a segment about containing our paper clutter. Avoiding piles of paper is one of the biggest challenges for me so I am determined to tackle it! Last time, I spoke about how I organize our receipts. Now, I’m tackling our mail.

Mail sorter close up

Shaun and I take on different chores in the house, and one of mine is the mail. One would assume, what with all the companies that offer electronic instead of mailed billing, that this particular task wouldn’t be much of an issue. But somehow, it still is, at least for me! Flyers, bank statements, invoices an invitations all seem to end up on our coffee table. I don’t know where to put them all, so I avoid going through the pile, the pile gets that much more daunting, and it ends up being a vicious cycle.

To avoid the pile up, I decided a mail sorter would be the best solution for me.

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This one from Pottery Barn is pretty, but at 70 dollars (!) CAD, I definitely wanted a cheaper option.

I thought about making one myself, but creating a folder for mail seemed tedious… Call me crazy, but creating something out of old cereal boxes just for junk mail doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time. When I found Kvissle from Ikea for $20 (CAD), I was sold!

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It’s a tad larger than what I had in mind (it’s technically a magazine rack) but I thought that in the end the size would come in handy.

First, I reviewed our main problem areas:

1. Flyers. Shaun likes to look through the flyers we receive for deals of the week. It’s great, since he’s definitely the bigger saver of this little duo, and it inspires me to do the same. However, what’s not so great is that they don’t have a home. I don’t know if he’s been through a particular flyer, if he needs me to keep it and somehow they end up tossed around our house.

2. Bills. If it’s not electronic, we tend to forget about them until we find them again later. Not good, I know. What can I say, we grew up with computers.

3. General info. Invitations, Elections BC, bank statements, pay stubs etc.

I opted to hang our mail sorter in our mini front entry hall way. After assembling it, Shaun helped me hang it using a couple of basic screws.

Shaun hanging our mail sorter

Mail sorter first shot

You’ll notice I added some teal folders (they’re from the Martha Stewart collection at Staples). Unfortunately, when I put the Kvissle together (gotta love Ikea assemble-it-yourself) I realized they weren’t quite as wide as I had in mind. They’re so narrow that I can’t reach the bottom of each section, and plus, there are holes at the bottom of each section: my mail could fall through. Instead, I pull out the folders to reach my mail. Plus, this way I have a bit more colour!

Update: I actually love the folders. So much easier for filing my important documents away later!

I knew I wanted to label my new mail sorter, and remembered I still had some Avery Clear Decals from my Glass Decal project hanging around. It’s made of metal, so I thought I’d try it out. To learn how to use them, click on the link above.

Mail Sorter Lables

(A reader asked me a while back what font this is. If you’re curious, it’s Sacramento.)

To add another little punch of colour (and to hide the ugly fuse box you may have noticed in the pictures above) I decided to hang one of the pictures I took in Indonesia. I used command velcro strips so that it can easily be removed if ever we need to access the box.

Mail Sorter Final

Here’s how I decided to organize it all:

I had five whole sections with Kvissle, so I started breaking them down first into the most obvious choices and then went from there.

1. Flyers to read: Shaun can pick up the flyers he wants to look through here. If we have no use for them, they’ll go into the recycling bin. If we do use them, Shaun can keep them or we can throw them up on our memo board (more about that soon!)

2. Inbox: I’d love to say that I will open and sort through my mail as soon as I get it, let’s be honest, I’m lazy, and I won’t. When I get home, I divide the mail and flyers. When I feel up to it, I’ll sort through the mail and put it in one of the following slots.

3. Recycle: One of my readers (feel free to check her blog) suggested keeping a recycling bin at the entrance so to toss junk mail and other paper as soon as I get home. What a great idea! I never thought of that, but I definitely wanted to implement it! We don’t have much more room on the floor, and I’d like to keep the recycling area small (so we’re forced to take it out and not let it pile up) so I think a section here is perfect.

4. To do: I used to have a To Do pile during my brief stint as a receptionist (wasn’t really my cup of tea) that worked so well, so why not do it at home? Here, I’ll keep the bills we need to pay, the mail I need to respond to, the personal information I need to file away, etc.

5. I struggled to decide what was best for the last slot. I thought about keeping a spot for my library and teaching books, but I decided a To Shred section would be the most useful for me. This way I can easily keep our identities protected.

Total Project Costs:

Kvissle from Ikea: $20

Folders from Staples:$5

(I had the avery decals previously of course, but they were about ten bucks).

Total cost: $25.

I’m really happy with how organized my entry way is shaping up to be. Stay posted for my memo board and a few styling tweaks! I might even gather the nerve to stencil a wall… We’ll see…

I’m linking up with:

Not Just A Housewife

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Gallery Wall (and How To Hang Ikea Ribba Frames)

In my recent hutch post, you may have caught a glimpse of our new gallery wall. Since our apartment is fairly open, I have a long white wall to fill… 19 ft, to be exact. I got around to hanging some of my prints this week, and it quickly felt so much more like “home”.

Gallery wall 1

(Just seeing our couch in pictures makes me want to recover my pillows and add a few more. Eventually, eventually…)

I had both sets of frames from previous places, (4 Ribba frames from Ikea, 5 by 7 photo size and 4 that I bought from a consignment store nearby) but I only thought to put them together here. First, I laid them out to try different formations on the ground.

Another layout One layout

None of them suited me, so I took a look at one of my pins that I’ve been saving for this very reason.

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I find it much easier to inspire myself from a framework like this (no pun intended) rather than starting from scratch. I love the idea of going for a random assortment like the top left image, but I always end up opting for symmetry. The third one in the top row was a great jumping off point; it just needed some tweaking.

Here’s how we hung them (using a mix of nails and command strips):

1. I took a photo of the layout as reference, and noted the approximate distance between prints: mine were about 3” apart. (I’ve missed this step before and ended up with pictures far more spread out than I had intended).

2.  We hung the middle photo at eye level first, centering them between my sofa pillows.

Middle photo Middle photo 2

While I love the look of Ribba frames, I find them poorly designed. The backs are too narrow for command strips. The frames are so deep that they’re hard to hang using regular nails. Plus, they have these awful cheap things to keep photos in place:

Ribba frame explanation

I’ve asked Ikea staff if they have anything specifically made to hang these frames (they love making designs that only work with their products), but they don’t. In case you’re facing the same dilemma, I thought I’d share what works for us.

We use long 2” narrow nails like these:

Which nail to use

They’re long enough to hold the frame, but narrow enough to fit in the nail “holder”. I nail them in with about an inch to spare. Then, I pull them back out to about an inch and a half: this way, I can see where the nail is going behind my frame, and I can carefully insert them into the holder. Once they’re in place, I push the nail back into the drywall so that the frame is flush with the wall.

3. We hung the top and bottom Ribba frames next. We’ve been picky about using a level and keeping them in an exact straight line in the past, but this time, we just eyeballed it.

Middle line

4. From there, I worked from the middle outwards. I hung my larger prints around the middle line of photos with command strips. I’ve loved them for a while, and you’ve probably seen them elsewhere in blogland. As much as they can be expensive, I find them much easier since they don’t damage the wall and they’re repositionable.

Second row

5. Finally, I hung our last two Ribba frames.

Gallery wall 2

I may add a two more to create more balance, but I’m not sure yet. What do you think?

Gallery wall

Total costs for this project:

Prints: These are my own photos, so I only had the cost of developing. I had a few on hand, but I updated the 8 by 10’s and a few of the 5 by 7’s, so my total here was $35.

Frames: Again, most of these were frames I already had. I only added one more frame from Ikea for $7. If you’re curious, my larger frames were $5 each on consignment. I recommend checking out home consignment stores once and a while… You never know when you’ll find a deal!

(Quick tip: these frames didn’t actually come with mats. They’re an awkward size, so I just backed the photos with white cardstock. Unless you’re looking closely, you would never know the difference!)

Command strips: $5

My total cost: $47

What about you? Anything you’ve taken the time to hang recently? Have you happily displayed any of your own photos?

Our Robin’s Egg Blue Hutch

Side note: I just wanted to take the time to send my love to those hurt in the explosions in Boston, and for the families affected… One of my closest friends is training for an Iron Man, and I keep thinking that it could have been her running if we lived in a different city. Heartbreaking. 

Shaun has quite the collection of books (I’ve grown up going to libraries instead… Why buy and store a book if you can just borrow it? Just my thoughts. I own only a few that I truly love.), so we needed a bookcase. We’ve been slogging around with a free one Shaun found at work for a while, but we decided that when we moved was as good a time as ever to get something to replace it.

We bought a hutch off Craigslist for $150 to do the job (originally 195, but we used our learned-the-hard-way bargaining skills from our travels and talked him down!). I’ve been eyeing the colourful furniture trend for a while, so I thought I would give it a try!

Blue hutch

As much as I’d love to say I played a part in this DIY, it was really all Shaun. He even scoured the internet for the piece itself. Here’s how he did it:

He started off with a 90’s dated yellow oak stain. We didn’t get the chance to snap a true before photo, but here’s one (mid-sand) to give you a good idea:

Sanded hutch

First, Shaun sanded the whole thing down with a palm sander. You could certainly do it by hand, but it was a super thick veneer, and it would take a while.

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He primed the whole thing in one coat: (with a sprayer, because he’s a pro :)

image image

And gave two coats of “Lakeview” by Dulux.

Done! Here it is waiting to be organized in our living room.

New hutch

Except…

When I first laid eyes on it…

After Shaun had spent the weekend working on it…

I hated it.

I found it horribly blue and thought I was crazy for choosing it. Why hadn’t I chosen white, like I always do? I preferred the more natural, more “sophisticated”, tones in our home, that I thought the hutch was bold and childish and awful.

I pondered it, pondered it and pondered it some more… and thought I’d give it a shot. I had a tough time deciding on how to organize our books on it too. With books sprawled all around me on the floor and me staring (yet again) at our hutch, Shaun finally told me that “our place doesn’t need to look like it’s out of a catalog all the time.”

A catalog? Maybe a magazine was what he was going for? Ah anyway, I took that as a compliment. But no dear, it really does need to look like it’s “out of a catalog”. Just the way I am. (Not that it even looks magazine-worthy. Just that some thought has gone into how I decorated!)

Blue hutch front

Anyway, it took a while, but I love it! Now that I see it with my photos on the wall, it doesn’t even look like that bold a colour. It looks… pale blue actually. Just encourages me to go with even more colour as my projects continue!

It’s deep enough to store all Shaun’s DVD’s (concealed in cheap white Ikea boxes), two rows of books on each shelf:

Middle shelf 2 Top Shelf

All of Bali’s gear (not to mention our Settlers of Catan game… Yeah… I’m a big fan.) in the bottom:

Hutch Cupboard

Took me a while, but we love it. Shaun likes it because it’s functional, and I like it because it’s pretty, and functional. I’m looking forward to injecting more of that robin’s egg blue in our living room!

Hutch from the side

What about you? Any decisions you’ve been wary about at the beginning? Any steps you’ve taken out of your comfort zone that you’ve ended up loving? Hating?