Nov 272014

This post is sponsored by Floorplanner. Just kidding. But it should be.

When we downsized, we said goodbye to most of our furniture, an abundance of kitchen cabinets, and six giant closets.  I was terrified our new apartment would be the next space on Hoarders.

To find a spot for everything that survived the purge, we drew a diagram on Floorplanner and ended up with this:

Apartment floorplan

If you are moving, measure the rooms and use Floorplanner!  It’s well worth your time.  Why spend sweat and money bringing furniture to a new home only to discover that it doesn’t fit there?  Purge before you move!

And in our case, we needed to come up with a storage solution.  Floorplanner made that obvious:  the living room was big enough to fit bookshelves behind our sofas.

We wanted 8 matching bookcases which meant we couldn’t rely on Kijiji (our usual furniture source), so we settled on the Ikea Billy in black for its price ($69) and for a little contrast with our off-white sofas.  It was still expensive, but selling the rest of our furniture more than covered it.

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We anchored them to the walls and removed their backs to lessen the black hole effect.

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Wicker baskets hold things like greeting cards and instruction manuals.  And in case you can’t tell that we love Ikea, these boxes hold everything from receipts to craft supplies to Christmas mugs.

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We store extra blankets and pillows in the shelves hidden behind the sofas.

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If you have space in your living room (or any other room for that matter) bookshelves add so much function and only stick off the wall by 11 inches.  Of course there are downsides to this design.  Most of our art is sitting in storage.  But ultimately I’d rather look at my stuff on the wall than trip over it on the floor.

Copycat decorating

 Decor  Comments Off on Copycat decorating
Nov 242014

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I recently broke my big rule and picked up a tealight holder for $2 at the Madonna House Gift Shop. That place is a (pun-intended) goldmine.

At home, I plopped it on the desk and it made me smile every time I walked by.  But it was quite pitiful bobbing alone in the sea of black.  Goldy needed some friends.

Up until then, I had written off the desk as a lost cause and hadn’t bothered decorating it.  But now I wanted to.  So I turned to my Clipix board of office inspiration and remembered this photo from 7th House on the Left:


I gazed lovingly at that photo for several minutes while nursing Sam.

Suddenly it hit me that I own that exact candle, a similar brown and gold notebook, and certainly no shortage of cute little plants:

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What do pink, gold, and green have in common?  This journal!

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The notebook and journal had been living together with my agenda on a bookshelf a chair-roll away which was silly because I use them at the desk.

Picture me sitting here:

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You want to plan a brunch date with us?  Sorry, we can’t, because I’m too lazy to go fetch my agenda.

But things are different now.

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I predict a major improvement to our social life.   All thanks to a $2 tealight holder and Ashley‘s gorgeous style.

Nov 212014


I should take the chicken out of the freezer before I forget.  But first, I’ll run down and start a load of laundry.  Wait – Did I remember to email so-and-so back? 

These tasks are so quick and easy that I want to do them all RIGHT NOW.  But a couple months ago I figured out that there are two things I should do first every morning because they are my home’s potential obstacles (henceforth referred to as POs because “potential obstacles” isn’t catchy).

This isn’t a philosophical post.  Obviously, being Christian, the ultimate PO is to not have a prayer time.  Here, I’m talking about 1-minute tasks that compete for our attention.  If these two tiny things are not done, they prevent me from staying on top of everything else throughout the day.

My #1 PO is not making the bed.  It doesn’t have to look great, it just needs to be a flat clear surface.  For some people, the hub of the home – the place where everything happens – is the kitchen island or the dining table.  In this apartment, it’s our bed.  It’s where we fold laundry, play with Sam, and tackle organizing projects.  So if I don’t make it first thing in the morning, we and our stuff end up on a messy pile of blankets and things go missing.  Once a phone enters an unmade bed, you may as well skip over to Telus and buy a new one.

My #2 PO is not emptying the dish rack.   It’s easy to wash two plates and leave them to air dry.  But if the dish rack is full of last night’s stuff, those two plates get plopped down in the sink and go from needing a quick soapy rinse to a senseless war with crusty cheese/tomato sauce/rice cereal.

So those are my POs.  What are yours?

Nov 202014

At any flea market / shop / garage sale / Target, I want to bring everything home.  It’s not healthy.  Or affordable. Or practical, given my desire to live with less in a small space.

While I slowly turn away from my decor-promiscuous past,  I’ve imposed a rule on myself:  Only buy it if I know exactly where I will put it in my home.  Which means that lately, I buy almost nothing, because our home is FULL.

A happy side effect is that when I do buy something, it feels like Christmas.

This past summer, I wanted to be able to watch the time while nursing Sam on the opposite sofa.  And this bookshelf was begging for an interesting tenant:

Bookshelf vacancy

So when I saw this clock at the Madonna House Gift Shop, I knew exactly where I’d put it.

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Like all things British, it would look good just about anywhere.  Wouldn’t it blend in perfectly in Richard Burke’s apartment?

Richard Burke's apartment

Or Harvey Spector’s office?

harvey and jessica

Now, here it lives in all its brushed-finish, vintage glory:

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It hits the ideal decor trifecta of being functional, good-looking, and well-placed.   A few months later, it still catches my eye and makes me feel that all is right with the world.


* Suits photo found here.

* I couldn’t find a photo of Dr. Burke’s apartment, so I took a screenshot of the episode on Netflix.  Photo credit goes to… Netflix? Warner Bros?

The desolation of Speedy

 Life  Comments Off on The desolation of Speedy
Nov 192014

After weeks of desolating our home through the infliction of terror and tension, Speedy has met a chilly end.  Oh how the tables have turned.

Evidently, all I had to do was tell the internet about him.  Feeling exposed, he sought refuge in a little cardboard box only to discover that it was a trap.

Last night we found him alive but very much stuck in one of these:

insect trap

He is now being lulled into a cold, peaceful, (hopefully) painless death in the dumpster outside.

Nov 172014

I have a love-hate relationship with our home office, a.k.a. the desk in our living room.

We providentially found it on Kijiji the week we moved into our apartment.  It’s solid wood, provides all the function we need, and fits the space perfectly.  But in terms of my picky decorating preferences, it’s a black hole where dreams go to die.

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Also, a cockroach lives in it right now.  He comes out once in a while to terrorize me.  We haven’t been able to catch him; he is fast.   We’ve tried those little cardboard traps and while they’ve caused a blow to our silverfish population, they are no match for Speedy.

Someday I would love to evict him and replace the whole thing with a white lower half and wood open shelving.  I’m so inspired by Joy’s DIY desk:


But for now, I’m grateful to have an organized workspace.  In all fairness to Speedy, sharing an office with anyone is rarely pleasant, and at least he is neat.

Nov 142014

A couple years ago there were more toilets than people living in my home.  There were entire rooms I never went in.  Our fancy townhouse was new, sparkly, cold, and felt like a museum.

Then I got pregnant and started reading a book called Living with Less so Your Family Has More.  It dawned on me that I wanted more time, less stuff, and fewer bathrooms to clean.  Zach was game.  So we sold our house and moved into a cozy apartment, going from 2100 to 780 square feet.

Glenbow to Kirkwood

We got rid of 70% of our stuff, while adding new baby gear, because one month later, our son Sam was born.

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I realized I was in good company when I discovered Dana Miller at House*Tweaking who downsized from a McMansion to a modest bungalow while pregnant with their third child.  She has become my design hero for her aesthetic and her space efficiency.

It’s been so freeing to have less stuff and less space to manage.  As we learn to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, we find inspiration everywhere.  Here is a helpful list I came across this week:  12 Things You Probably Own Too Many Of

Happy weekend!

Our apartment

 Our apartment  Home tour  Comments Off on Our apartment
Nov 102014

In early 2014 we downsized to a cozy apartment.

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I used Floorplanner to figure out how to set it up.

Apartment floorplan

We lined the living room with bookshelves that held everything from office supplies to Christmas decorations.  More on that here.

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We made our little kitchen more functional by using the walls and adding an Ikea island.  More about the kitchen here.

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The dining room was basically a big hallway with four openings.  We defined a dining space by painting one wall almost black.

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In that same space, Zach built a shelf with hooks and a ledge for alcohol.

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The bathroom had a pedestal sink – no counters or cabinets – so we relied 100% on the walls to make it functional.  See all the details here.

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For our bedroom, we sanded and stained two Ikea nightstands from the as-is section.

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They turned out differently which made for a happy “his and hers” accident.

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We also added two super-cheap wardrobes topped off with bins for extra storage.

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In the nursery, we DIY’d most of the art, including this bear:

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Apparently I never thought to take any pulled-back shots.

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We lived in that apartment for just over a year.  It was such a happy home!


 Life  Comments Off on Camping.
Oct 242014

I’m obsessed with finding our “forever home.”

So are lots of people, according to HGTV and the thousands of house blogs out there.

It’s a good thing that we want this.  We were created with this desire, so that we’ll yearn for the Home in which we are meant to spend eternity.

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While on earth, we are camping.  We can – and I dare say should – make our camp a place of joy, peace, and beauty.  Always remembering that here, it’s temporary.