What a Gem! This Week’s Favourite Five

Friday… Finally… The patience my students and I have for school is clearly wearing thin at this time of year! Judging by my choices this week, I’m clearly lusting after clean, calm and airy spaces.

Sorry for the lack of sources in this post… I depended on Pinterest more than I usually do this week.

1. An expansive ornate white mirror:

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If you have been following my on instagram, you may have noticed the (free!) frame my boyfriend picked up for me from his friend’s place. I’m thinking of painting it a lovely crisp white like this one.

2. A picture shelf:


I’m loving the casual look of a picture shelf like this one. Once it’s up, there’s no need to fuss with getting the exact right height like a gallery wall, or worrying about damaging the paint. You can easily switch out the frames, and can add other items for interest like the letters and plants in the photo. I’ll be adding one to our bathroom in the coming weeks…

3. A cute little office:

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Isn’t this little desk corner adorable? The wall organizer is so practical. While you’re working, keep it visible, and when you’re done, anything you don’t want to be reminded of can be easily tucked away behind the curtain!

4. Pink peonies:


I’ve realized recently that one thing my place is missing for me is a bit of glam. Aren’t the mirrors and peonies in this photo so lovely and glamorous?

5. A serene and feminine living and dining area:


I love this space. The muted tones and leaning mirrors and artwork give it a look of understated and casual elegance. It’s feminine without being too pink and girly, and calm without being too bland or boring. 

My inner debate between fresh bright colours and muted neutrals continues. Sometimes I’m all for the vibrant turquoise and yellow tones, and other times I lean towards soft greys and whites. Honestly, it’s an ongoing question for my living room. What’s your favourite scheme? How do you balance colour and neutral in your home?



Loathing Laundry… 5 Tips For Shared Laundry Users.

I often see gorgeous, organized and spacious laundry rooms popping up on Pinterest. Pretty to look at, but clearly not practical for a girl without in suite laundry. Laundry is a dreaded a chore, and is that much worse when you don’t have your own facilities.


Having used shared laundry for the majority of the past seven years, I’ve developed a system or two.

5 Tips for Shared Laundry

1. Keep laundry supplies together by the front door.

A little while ago, I wrote about my landing strip. Here I have a spot for my keys, purses, jackets, mail etc.

Inside my dresser and closet, I also keep everything I need together to do a quick load of laundry.

Keep Laundry supplies together

Keeping it all in a bin saves me from rummaging around in our closet trying to find the right product. The bottle I need is easily tossed into the laundry basket on the way out, and it reminds me to take extras like oxiclean or fabric softener.

Laundry bin contents:

Laundry Supplies

2. Get a supply of laundry money ahead of time.

I can’t believe I only thought of this a few months ago! Go to the bank, and get a roll full of the coins you need for your building or laundromat machine. In our case, it’s 2 dollars a load:

Laundry coins

(I keep ours in the top drawer of my landing strip dresser.)

How did it take me so long to think of this?? No more rummaging around the house looking for loose change, last minute trips to the grocery store to break a ten… It’s a no-brainer.

3. Do laundry during “off-peak” laundry hours.

You’ve finally decided to conquer your pile of laundry. You’ve sorted it all, found some spare change, hauled it to the basement, only to find out your neighbours had the same idea. Sound familiar?

I think this is my biggest pet peeve about sharing laundry. To skirt the problem, get to know your own building’s peak laundry times, and avoid them at all costs.

For example, early Sunday morning used to be a great time for me to do laundry in my last apartment. It was full of young couples, and it seemed they were more likely to sleep in on a Sunday morning. This building, being home to couples, families and singles, is different. Someone is always downstairs washing their clothes on a weekend at 9am. I’ve realized I have much better luck when I come home from teaching on a weekday at 3 in the afternoon.

4. Presort your loads.

Sort laundry I used to have a huge heap of laundry to sort through, but have since learned it’s impractical. Instead, use different hampers and sort laundry as you go. It may be a bit of an investment, but it’s worth it. Sorting daily leaves less work on laundry day, less to haul to the laundry room, and hampers like these make use of precious vertical space!

5. Go on wheels.

Laundry wheels

I’m all about making my chores as painless as possible. I have lugged carts full of laundry up and down stairs, through the halls, across streets… If you have in building laundry, especially if you have an elevator, use castors on your hamper.

So. much. easier.

These hampers are from Ikea for about 25 Canadian dollars.

Hope that helps you fellow renters out there feel just as organized as those with a lovely laundry room! What drives you crazy about shared laundry? Have any systems that work well for you?

Budget Bathroom Updates (for only 55 bucks)

I made some progress on our bathroom this weekend! I still have some decisions to make for some areas in our place, but I’m pleased with how this room is turning out so far…

First off, you may remember the temporary mirror frame we made to update our boring basic one.

Bathroom updates

Lovely, but I was still faced with a more practical problem: storage and functionality. Having such a small cabinet in our bathroom meant very little easily accessible storage. I decided to make use of some of our vertical space and install a shelf.

Here’s a quick view of the wall before:Bathroom wall before

And after:

Bathroom wall after

A few weekends ago, I scored a $12 Pottery Barn shelf at a local consignment store. It’s a perfect fit!

I now have space to keep a basket with all of Shaun’s toiletries (I clearly can’t see anything in it since I’m too small. I literally took the next photo while standing on the toilet!) and pretty glass jars from Ikea to store cotton pads and Q-tips. I added in a bit of travelling memories too with a little bowl from a friend in China and a photo I took from our hostel in Venice.

Bathroom shelf

For even more storage, we installed a floating shelf above the doorway for extra towels and toilet paper. Plus, it was free. It was left behind in our apartment foyer. (I’m only slightly embarrassed to pick up things left out like that now…)

Above door shelf

I’m loving the Moroccan trellis patterns these days. (I’m clearly not the only one, judging by a quick look on Pinterest!) I would love to add it with a carpet in our living room, but those are so expensive… Especially considering that right now, my puppy would eat it. This little basket from Winners is a great compromise at $6 to hold all my brushes, make up and moisturizers.

Bathroom baskets

Again, here’s what I walked into on moving day…

And here’s how it’s coming along! I added a soft white bathmat from Ikea for $14 too. I’d love a white area rug, but again, not so good with a puppy. This one can easily be thrown in the wash when it gets dirty!


The only thing I’m not entirely sold on is our current shower curtain. I love the dark grey, and liked in our last place, but here it seems… very… metallic. Maybe it’s just the photo? I don’t know. What do you think?

My bathroom is getting close to finished! Well at least up to my standards. I’m sure I’ll tweak it here and there once I’m finished.

Total costs thus far:

Mirror Frame: $8

Wooden baskets: $6 each from Ikea, $12 total

Trellis basket: $6 from Winners (the Canadian equivalent to Marshal’s)

Burken glass jars: $2 each at Ikea, $4 total

Toftbo mat: $13 from Ikea

Floating shelf: free

Pottery Barn shelf: $12 on consignment

Photo and frame: owned

Total: $55. So cheap thus far! I might be feeling a splurge on a faucet or new curtain coming on… Here’s what’s left.

Bathroom To Do List Update:

  • Replace cabinet hardware
  • Build a (removable) mirror frame
  • Replace the faucet
  • Create a storage system for under the sink (It’s a work in progress.)
  • Hang artwork Well… half way. I’d like to add some small-scale black and white photos above my hand towel.
  • Hang extra shelves?
  • Add a small bathroom rug?

Have you made any cheap updates in your bathroom? Would you be embarrassed to pick up something free at your building’s doorstep?

What a Gem! This Week’s Favourite Five

Little late on my usual Friday post, but better late than never right?

1. West Elm knock off coffee table


I love walking through West Elm, but honestly, it’s usually way out of my budget. It’s clearly worth the splurge from time to time, but it’s even better if you can make it yourself! Julia bought this coffee table at a third of the price, and just white washed the top to make it look like the original. $100 is much more manageable than the original $300 plus price tag.

2. Gleaming industrial lamps:


I’m on a bit of a lamp kick recently… maybe because ours are cheap Home Depot basics? These lamps are like a pair bright silver earrings. A little accent can make the space!

4. Help on hanging frames:


I’ve often heard about hanging prints at eye level, but I’ve never heard of following the natural lines of a room. By looking for the “lines” of a room, the bottom of a window, the top of a door frame and so on, the composition of a room can be much more pleasing to the eye.

4. This massive piece of abstract art:


I’ve never been one for paintings of landscapes or portraits, but I love an abstract piece. One of these days I’m going to attempt it. This one especially appeals to me because the size is balanced out by the peaceful, pale blue monochromatic scheme.

5. A pretty, feminine office:


To start with, this room has great bones. The beams on the ceiling and those windows are lovely! The bright chartreuse pillow and the bold silver lamp especially caught my eye. Having an office like this makes working on a computer from home seem so much more appealing…

Hope you enjoyed this week’s round up! Have a lovely (long for all you Americans) weekend and I’ll be back Monday!

5 Tips to Personalize Your Rental (No Paint Required!)

My boyfriend and I were out walking our puppy today and I noticed one of our building neighbours had painted stripes on her walls. (The windows were open. I couldn’t help looking!) It made me wonder how many other units had been personalized too… I’d love to see what others have done with an apartment identical to ours! My boyfriend pointed out that many probably hadn’t changed at all, but I’m sure there are others out there like me who want more than plain white walls and drab old carpet.

We have the luxury of being able to paint our walls (well… Luxury might be a strong word. We still have to paint it back when we move, so I’ll go with lucky). However, this clearly isn’t the case with a number of places. What can you do to personalize your home when you can’t pick up a paintbrush?

1. For one, you can switch up your hardware:


Aren’t these awesome? And they are DIYed! They look like true Malachite knobs, but in actuality, they’re plain old white ceramic ones coloured over with a teal sharpie. For a full tutorial, check out her blog.



If a piece of furniture can change this much, imagine how much of a difference it could make on your cabinets. Just be sure to match the size of the new knob to your existing ones, and switch them back when you move!

2. Switch out door handles.

I often see people replacing cabinet hardware, but why not doors too? Ours are especially dull… Old basic gold and a silver with paint splattered on the sides after years of repainting our apartment. You could always switch out your current ones for a pretty new pair, or better yet, add in some character with a glass knob like this.


I’ve been crushing on this vintage style for quite a while now… Check some out at an antique store in your neighbourhood, or better yet, a warehouse that sells salvaged vintage pieces. Jack’s New and Used in Vancouver is a great option for any local readers out there!

3. Washi tape walls.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Washi tape walls? How simple and effective!

You wouldn’t have to stop at diagonal stripes. Chevron, squares, diamonds… There really are so many possibilities. For more pattern inspiration, feel free to check out my Favourite Patterns Board on Pinterest!

4. Multiple light sources and dimmers.

One thing I often find in a rental are the cheapest possible choices, and lighting is no exception. I’ve had living rooms that don’t even have an overhead lamp.

I’m picky with light. I can’t stand a room lit with harsh overhead lights, bleaching out the colours in the space. Imagine how much of a statement a gorgeous lamp could make in a rental, and how much better the room would look well lit?


However, I’m clearly not about to go off changing the hanging lamps I have in my place any time soon. Maybe one day…

That being said, I often read designers mentioning how important multiple sources of light are, especially when used with a dimmer switch. Even adding a few great accent lamps on your side tables and beside furniture can make space feel so much cosier and warm. What’s more, you can even buy cheap dimmer cords to add in some lovely mood lighting to your existing lamps! Check this option out from Ikea for $10.


5. Plywood wall.

If your walls can’t be painted or wallpapered, why not add a wall in that can be?


I mean seriously. How sweet is that accent wall? She made it with a piece of plywood. I love it. The project adds so much more character and depth to an otherwise white backdrop.

Hope these ideas have inspired you to make some changes in your home! If you’re going to be living there, why not make it feel more like you, and less like a plain old place you’re staying in?

House Tour

Browsing other homes on the internet is one of my favourite pass times. It’s great to look at beautifully designed spaces, but seeing real homes brings so much more… More character, personality, charm… So inspiring because they’re simply more attainable.

Having been in our home for almost two months, I thought it was about time I added a home tour. It is no where near complete, but hopefully this will give you an idea of where it’s headed!


When entering our little home, you’re met with a short hallway and closet. Here is a quick photo before move-in day:


And here’s how it looks after painting the chevron wall, creating a landing strip and setting up a mail sorter:

Chevron Progress


On your left, you hit our bathroom:


And here’s how it looks with our shower curtain and upgraded bathroom mirror:

Bathroom progressMirror After Vertical


On the other side of the hall, you enter the kitchen:

image image

Pretty plain. And small! Here’s how it looks now that we’ve added a cart, installed open shelving, and added extra baskets for storage:

Progress Kitchen

Living room

Through the kitchen, you hit our main living area.


Here’s how it looks with a new gallery wall:

Living room progress

You may notice one room strangely missing… Our bedroom. Honestly, I’ve hardly touched it. Just to complete the tour, here’s our before shot:


Although we of course have our bed, headboard, dresser and so on in there, it’s definitely still… well… in the before stages. Eventually I’ll get there!

Hope you enjoyed my quick home tour! Doesn’t take long to glance through photos of 625 sq ft of space. Be sure to check back as I’ll make sure to update it as our home takes shape!

For a full list of projects, check out my Organize and Projects pages.

What a Gem! This Week’s Favourite Five

Here are my top five finds of from this week:

1. Chris Loves Julia‘s list of Less Traditional Things to Fill a Bare Wall:


I love the idea of displaying photos on a shallow shelf like this. I’ve been brainstorming new ways to display more photos of family and friends in our home, and I think this could be a lovely and casual solution. Plus, the list also included bikes on display:

Though clearly not something I would choose to do, this space pulls it off. One of my closest friends would love to display her bike like this, so I just had to include it!

2. Emily Henderson is quickly becoming one of my favourite designers. Check out her latest master bedroom makeover:


Gorgeous. I would prefer something more feminine myself, but I nevertheless love the crisp white combined with dark indigo and mustard yellow accents.

3. Ceramic Owl Bookends:


I’ve never been one for collections, but if I had to have one, ceramic owls would be it. Maybe because they symbolize wisdom? Or reflect my book-adoring ways? Whatever it is, I may just have to indulge the desire to collect a few more…

4. Glass Jar Typography:


Honestly. For someone who has spent years doodling different fonts, how has this never crossed my mind? So simple, yet so effective.

5. This Coral Infused Bedroom:


Clearly I’ve had bedrooms on the brain this week… Maybe because ours is an utter disaster. It’s on the list. Anyway, I had to add this in for two reasons.

a) The design itself, of course! Sarah did a beautiful job of combining a few different prints, from the wallpaper, to the bedspread, to the bright little pillow. The use of texture in the space is great too: the dark brass nightstand, the airy glass lamp, the grasscloth wallpaper, the nailhead design… Most importantly, it’s a removable feature wall, so renter friendly!

b) I love getting to know the blogger behind the design, and she sounds so lovely and approachable! Her home is gorgeous, and she is even a renter. Now I’m intrigued.

Hope these inspired you as much as they did for me! I will tackle our bedroom… I will tackle our bedroom…

Have a wonderful long weekend to all you Canadian readers out there :)