Browse Tag: home

Saying Goodbye to Union Street

Since paying off my car in November (or realizing I could go ahead and pay it off at any time without penalty!) I realized that with the help of my budgeting system I am able to save decent money and live off a smaller amount of income. I am working very hard at a few jobs and doing my best to live comfortably. I decided recently that I was close enough to start the process of looking for my first home.

The first step in making this decision come to life is giving notice on my rental house, cancelling services and beginning the process of finding out about the legalities of buying a home including mortgage, insurance and fees required. What I am looking for in a home is that of my current rental, a cute older home that has had some renovations done but still holds its original unique character. As I will be living there alone I do not need a ton of space but I do hope to have a decent yard that I will be able to actively use and garden.


livingroom1

The Living Room

I have rented many apartments in my day, but this was the first real house, a semi-detached 100+ year old home in an old suburb of Kingston. When I toured the space I knew it needed considerable work but that’s never an issue as I enjoy the renovation process. At first glance it needed a solid cleaning, holes filled in and fresh paint.

The living room I’ll admit, is rather busy looking at the moment. I change it around every 4 months which is also when I do a deep clean of every room. I love my thrift treasures, artwork and trinkets so naturally it can look packed very quickly, but I assure you it is nice and cozy when you are physically in the room.

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Tour My Wardrobe

If you cannot view the video above please check it out on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8YL9TtVNLM

People often say to me “wow you must have a huge closet!” well there are a few ways to respond to this. Yes and no. I live alone and have a two bedroom home so therefore I have a master bedroom that can be better used to make my life easier. Complete with sewing station, garment rack, makeup desk and storage.

My closet was reconstructed by my father as it was not useable in the state it was in. The bar was located deep into the back of the closet, one shelf above the bar that was installed too close to the bar, so I wouldn’t be able to hang any clothing on it as is. My father lowered the bar in the back and installed a second one at the front of the closet – easily enough space in this deep closet for two rows of clothing.

I use the back row for off season so currently it has my summer tops and dresses, as well as my vacation clothing. The front is what I use most frequently. Yes there’s also the garment rack, and this is because it was offered to me so I wanted to make use of it to keep myself organized. It actually fills the empty space in the room as well as giving me a place to sort my ready-to-go business outfits for mornings when I must be up and out the door before 6:30am.

As I say in the video this home is exceptionally old (close to 100 years old according to my landlord, at least a good 75) and was not built with decent lighting or shelving of any sort. All storage would have to be created using thrifted cabinets, bookcases and desks. It makes for a lot of furniture and a cozy atmosphere.
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The Quarterly Re-Arrangement

livingroom3 It seems every 4 months I feel the urge to rejuvenate myself through changing my home. At last look in September I repainted some of my existing furniture to blend into the space better. I had been quite busy with work and travel so I hadn’t thought too much more about changing it up but recently I started feeling my slump and decided to redo the living room. Usually these are a catastrophe because I make the decision to change late in the day on let’s say a Sunday.


livingroom1This time however it was a gorgeous sunny summer-like day in May and thought, hey, I’m going to draw out some ideas first! Sadly the furniture never fits quite like your drawing suggests but it was a new look that I was feeling regardless. Unfortunately my futon is much larger than I think it is, so the diagonal across the corner space was just not plausible. One day when a smallish couch comes into my life the design will work better. I also made a huge change, not so huge to me but shocking to most people. I removed my tv from my living room! I wasn’t using it anyway, and I prefer the feel of the room without all seating facing this big black screen. So it has found a home at my parent’s house.

livingroom2 With the tv gone I was free to utilize the lovely storage unit for a more aesthetic purpose: my plants! My mother has been loading me up with potted beauties now that I’ve started learning how not to kill them! I absolutely love the space now because of all the green, it feels so inviting. My chairs are now in a cozy conversational setting – it all just feels cozy! I think this is my favourite setup so far it really feels good.
bedroom I also took advantage of the disaster that is me organizing my house – to redesign the bedroom too! Over the years I’ve started piecing together bedding in my favourite colour palette: brown, green and turquoise. Much like the mixed prints in the living room I apply the same technique in my bedding. I swapped out the curtains for a sheer light print – which occasionally requires me to wear a mask over my eyes to sleep but for the most part it really opens up the room! The bright sunshine makes this small dark room a whole new space! I changed all my clear plastic boxes (for my bead storage) to transparent green which makes the room pop too!

 

Refinished Coffee Table

coffeetable I purchased two wood framed coffee tables when I first arrived in Medicine Hat two years ago from a couple on Kijiji. They have been a great fit for all of my apartments out west but lately I’ve been finding they just aren’t needed in my current decor. I decided to try selling them on Facebook classifieds groups as well as Kijiji. All I ended up with is a ton of no-shows and wasted time.

Today I got out the white paint to do some touch ups around the house and got the crazy idea of painting one of them to make it blend into my decor a little better. I was amazed at the result, its really quite a cool looking table now. I may switch up the furniture in the living room now to make better use of this cool table.

coffeetable1I haven’t touched the second table yet, I think I’ll just leaving it in the basement until its needed one day.

Recovered Wingback Chair

wingbackchaircomplete It has been decided that my home is a source of work to my family, not often do they come by for a nice visit with a cup of tea and relaxation. It seems to always been that there is a task I need assistance with. While most people have bigger eyes than their stomachs, I have bigger ideas than my hands can create… every now and again.

My latest source of thrifty enjoyment is reupholstering furniture. This most recent project, or series of projects was actually inspired by my sister, who had been inspired by my altering clothing… a lovely creative cycle! She recovered her desk chair with a lovely black and white damask fabric to cover up all the “art” her cat had made with her claws into the original fabric. In her own way she came up with a plan for the pattern, purchased the fabric she wanted to use and completed the recovering using a method of elastic that would hug the fabric to the seat underneath.

When I was sifting through the fabric at Value Village recently with my parents, intending to find some fabric my mother could use to make yoga bags – I found this beautiful celery green fabric – and a lot of it! It dawned on me that maybe I could use this to recover my wingback chair in my living room that I had thrifted for $20 last summer. It seemed as though the more it was used the worst it looked, including the fact that it cannot be cleaned – soap simply makes it an ungodly disaster.

There appeared to be an endless amount of this fabric for $10, first pitching the idea to my mother to see what she thought. It was an instant hit with her as well! Little did I know, this project was a massive 3 day undertaking. I am not sure exactly what I had thought (aside from the giddy childlike oggling of my favourite colour) but seemed to think it would be a one evening stapling type of job. My mother in her own way, a perfectionist and master of the hand stitch. Her plan was a little more realistic.

Chair, Before & After We planned for a full Saturday of sewing beginning at 9:30am. We decided to do the smart thing and create a pattern out of quilt batting… Followed by laying it out on our fabric a few different ways until finally all the pieces fit, save for the back panel. This is why it is usually better to buy 10 metres of fabric rather than piece together using what you’ve randomly found!

By noon my sister had arrived only to ask if we had just started…! I suppose the chair didn’t look like much after 3 hours but we had done plenty of preparatory work! By the end of the day we had about 2 thirds of the chair completed, my assistance ending roughly around the 1 third mark when my mother switched to her hand sewing art. By day 3 all that remained were a few hand stitched details (her perfectionist ways!) and putting a back on it. Fabricland was having a three day sale conveniently so we picked out a similar fabric that we would do the back panel in seeing as we ran out of fabric!

I must say the chair looks far better than I could have ever imagined. We removed the dust ruffle from the base to expose the wood structure, removed the arm rest openings and gave the whole chair a new modern look!

 

September’s Furniture Overhaul

I decided after a summer of ups and downs that I needed to start fresh in September as most people do. What with back to school or work it seems like a better time than New Year’s Eve to start a new. So I’m thinking to myself I have a full weekend to rearrange, clean and spice up my home which for me is a huge jump start to feeling better.

As much as cleaning is a drag I always find I instantly feel better when dishes are done, or when I’ve finally put my closet back in a tolerable state. The problem with being a small framed individual with no male assistance hanging around, I run into slight issues when I decide to take on such a big project.

I am currently living in a semi-detached house that coincidentally a friend of mine used to be the previous tenant. I recall seeing on Facebook one day of her living room setup and I spent my three rearrangements (of the living room) trying to avoid copying her setup. This is also the reason I like to view apartments when they are empty then you aren’t forced into thinking that’s the only way furniture can be arranged in this space.

I decided to give it a shot anyway doing it similar to what I envisioned she had based on the location of her tv unit. This meant a complete flip of the room including a large wood tv unit I picked up recently, two large white shelving units, a futon, two chairs and grand finale: the awkwardly deep wardrobe unit. Most people don’t even realize how big the unit it as I had painted it to blend into the wall save for its white trim.

This huge flip ended up having two sacrifices by the end of the two day venture: my tv’s HDMI cable and my hard drive with all of my movies and tv shows. Lesson learned: as much as you think it won’t be a big deal, disconnect absolutely everything before moving a tv setup.

At the end of the day I had to recruit my mother to help save me from myself, and still didn’t feel quite right about the new look. After some thought, we had realized a simple coat of paint may just make the room flow that much better. It appears my grandmother’s china cabinet, as pictured above, was simply too white and stood out painfully in an otherwise more neutral space. I then spent the next few nights painting it up with the caramel wall colour to match the wardrobe I’d painted the year before. I also took the same thought and repainted the plant stand which didn’t exactly fit with the decor too.

DIY Furniture DIY Furniture



I can honestly say I’m quite satisfied with the final look of the space, and now all my thrifted furniture looks like a matching set!

 

Refurbished Plant Stand

Plant StandI have recently become more interested in having plant life in my home, in the past this has been rather unsuccessful even with plants that are “impossible to kill”. Thankfully I have a mother with a green thumb that has been able to save all of my unhappy plants. It may not always be me, my previous homes have been rather dark with only a small amount of afternoon sunlight if any at all.

My new residence has plenty of windows including a large one in the front receiving a whole day of sunshine. For some time I simply had a displaced stood standing at my front window to hold my peace lily up to the light. Not the most attractive setup but I wanted to be sure she got plenty of sun. My parents were at a community yard sale and happened to see this small bookcase unit.

My mother recalled my comment about looking for a plant stand that was tall enough to reach the window without being too intrusive. What a good eye she had! It was perfect and cost her only a whopping $2! I slapped on a few coats of paint to blend into my living room wall colour and voila! It is now a perfect home for my plants!

Plant Stand DIY Furniture

The Apple Green Chair

applegreenchairIt isn’t often that I thrift furniture as I think my home is finally at a point where the design of each room really works well. Of course this isn’t to say in a year I won’t want to completely change up the look, but for now I am completely happy with everything. My living room is now my favourite room in the house. I have lived here since October of 2013, and already have rearranged my living room once and the bedrooms at least twice.

I popped into Value Village randomly after a busy day at work on a Saturday afternoon, I think I was looking for something specific – though I can no longer remember what it was. Needless to say I didn’t find whatever it was but I did happen to take a quick walk through the furniture section and stopped instantly when I saw this chair.

Lately I’ve been pretty disheartened about the overpriced nature of items at Value Village so before I even checked the tag I was saying to myself “Don’t get excited it’s going to be priced high” I was so surprised to see it had a tag of $19.99 next to a similar, slightly newer chair for $59.99 For $20 I could not go wrong with this adorable accent chair in the exact shade of apple green I had been searching for. In just about perfect condition, no rips or tears!

The Chair That Could Have Been

greenchairNot all thrifting adventures are successful, in fact a lot of times we leave disheartened and empty handed. Maybe you completely fell in love with those shoes that were three sizes too big or the style of that dress was beautiful but your hips were too big. I am always frustrated when I go into Salvation Army – which is probably why I choose not to go very often, the only nice pieces of furniture always have a sold sign on them.

I guarantee you, walk up to any piece of furniture and it’ll have a fluorescent sticker saying “SOLD!” There’s nothing worse than seeing something you can’t have. Well last night I fell in love with a chair. You read that right, a chair. A beautiful green wingback chair full of life and character, not to mention shredding fabric and a flat cushion. But like they say, the heart knows what the heart wants. Ha ha I’m teasing my heart would heal I’m sure in a matter of minutes. But to see a chair with such flair for only $19.99 had me starstruck. I didn’t buy it last night only for sensible reasons. Would my mother be able to reupholster it?

greenchair2 I wasn’t going to give it a second thought seeing as I don’t have my own space to put it in, but I took a few photos so I could at least show her. At dinner I showed her the chair and she too was intrigued. My father grunted and said I should focus on saving money, but here I was thinking of the endless possibility and all that this feature piece of furniture could be. Later in the evening my mother approached me and suggested we go first thing in the morning to get it. We arrived not long after 9:00am when Value Village opened.

Straight to the back to the chair, we analyzed and pawed through each element. It was clear it was the ideal chair for what I wanted to do, was comfy and had such a nice shape. A few tricks may be required to cover it due to the gromets but mom wasn’t concerned. She asked if I wanted to grab an end and carry it to the front… to which I replied: “They don’t let you do that, you have to get a form filled out and pick it up at the back.”

By the time I walked to the front of the store and got the attention of a sales rep finally, my mother’s voice came yelling from behind me: “Pam! Pam! Its sold!” My heart sank as I turned around. Sure enough while my mother waited, another woman approached and said she was buying it. My mother stood firm but after a few minutes passed a sales rep came out with the appropriate form. Moments too late. We left and returned to the car. Next to us was a large pickup truck with two very similar wingback antique chairs in it’s back end – so we can only assume a collector or dealer of sorts had snagged it at 9:00am.

You cannot win them all, but as Fief says, “If it was meant to be, it’ll be here.” This beauty of a find was not meant to be for me, but I know that’s what I’ll be on the hunt for in the near future.

The Purple Couch

The final verdict comes with mixed reviews. Personally I think they look fantastic and unfortunately (for Mom!) it makes me want to source out more cheap furniture to recover for my new place. Luckily it takes time and a great deal of preparation to take on this task. You can expect I’ll have something very cool planned out for the new year!

Reupholstered ChairReupholstered Chair



Mom’s greatest challenges were the hand-stitching, pulling the thick fabric in such a way that it wraps the shape of the couch or chair precisely. The couch is still in the works but is certainly useable, just don’t get too close to the arm rests as they have tons of pins sticking out! She said if she were to do it again she would be more particular about the fabric choices as the one she found for the chair was a far better, stronger upholstery fabric. The couch fabric was an after thought and based on the amount required she thought the material would work the same as the chair. Apparently it is a lot less durable and more thin which long term won’t be the greatest.

Reupholstered Couch Reupholstered Couch

What was the greatest challenge you faced?
“Trying to cover it properly without running out of fabric because I wouldn’t be able to get more… I start projects without realizing I don’t have enough material!”

If you did it again, what would you do differently?
“I would use stronger fabric on the couch. I don’t know that its going to last, just doesn’t seem durable enough. I’d also pick a fabric with more pattern to it.”

What do you like most about the new look?
“The colours and the updated design. They look artsy, no longer looking like the old pieces of furniture that we’ve had forever.”

What do you like least (if anything) about the new set?
“The fact that the dog hair sticks to the couch!”

Retro Furniture Gets Second Chance!

Reupholstered ChairOccasionally we get tired of our furniture and want to upgrade. Upgrade doesn’t always mean hitting the Brick and JYSK in search of something better or more suitable than what we currently have. Sometimes we just want to switch up our decor because we get bored easily. The most resourceful idea that most people wouldn’t think of is quite simply reupholstering our current furniture or perhaps painting it.

Now I’m not talking about MTTHTBDS (moms trying too hard to be DIY savvy) by painting your dresser 6 different painfully bright colours… I’m talking about taking inspiration from modern sources, catalogs or even Pinterest and applying these ideas to your existing furniture. In my case, all my furniture is thrift so it didn’t cost much in the first place so worst case scenario is that it gets wrecked and we start over.

Chair Before Couch Before


A loveseat sofa bed and rocking chair have been in my parents’ possession for countless decades. These pieces are solid, heavy constructions with the wear and tear of two girls and several apartment moves. I had these in my last apartment in Kingston which came in super handy and I found them rather comfortable despite their not-exactly-mint appearance. However my mom, being the crafty sewing mastermind that she is, has taken it upon herself to redesign and give life to these two pieces.

Little did my father know when these items ended up back in his house for the um-teenth time – that they would take on a whole new persona. A whole new non-matching persona at that! This happens to everyone when we do things at different times, things don’t always match. Now my mother has never been a matchy-matchy person, in fact the more unique the better. She recovered the rocking chair with fabric she already had in her possession – and purchased the material for the couch at a later date thinking it was more of a red, turns out, its more of a purple. Oh well!
Chair Fabric Couch in Progress

Not sure how my dad feels about owning a purple couch but I think he gave up on trying to make sense of my mom’s decorating style and individual taste! The chair has been completed and I think was a tremendous success! The couch is a very large project and is currently underway.

Refinished Headboard

I’ve been watching Kijiji for some time collecting pieces to form a real bed. I started with the expensive mattress purchase which was a house-warming gift from the bank of Mom & Dad. I’m not exactly fond of living a student lifestyle with a mattress on the floor so after about a month I started searching for the rest of the pieces. I was looking for a double bed frame first which I found quite easily within a week or so of beginning my classifieds monitoring for $10.

Unfortunately that day it decided to snow and like most Prairie provinces the wind was not kind. But being the trooper that I am, I found my way into the scariest suburb of Medicine Hat, mounted the bedframe onto the top of the Tuscon and tied with the cheapest rope known to mankind… All while the woman and her family stood in the window and watched. I did have a man approach me and offer to drive it to my house in his truck but at this point I was still on my independent woman high.

DIY Headboard DIY Headboard
I got that off the car, up the stairs into the bedroom and adjusted to a double size, only to realize that slats are required or a boxspring – which I did not have. Funny how you don’t process the structure of something when you’ve always just arrived and it has been pre-constructed for you. As resourceful as I am, I searched in my minimalist apartment for a makeshift way of elevating the mattress until I obtained a boxspring. Success! Two unused wood shoe racks (that I use as regular shelving) laid on their side would do the trick. They were taller than the frame mind you so it was a good few weeks of teater-tottering. Another week passes and I find a double boxspring for $15 from a gentleman trying to get rid of some of his parent’s retro furniture he had been left with. Gawd awful 60’s floral? No problem. Luckily I had a friend (aka Superman) bring his truck and assist (by assist I mean do all the work for me because I’m useless)… in the end the poor guy wrecked his back for a good two weeks being all the muscle to get the thing up those stairs on his own. My bad!

So with the bed established I was pretty content with it but I kept my eye open for a head board as I had always admired them, the iron style that you really only find in a twin size and extremely pricey. Early this week I found a posting for a $25 black and gold metal headboard. Compared the prices I had seen recently this was a steal! Luckily I can look past the outdated style of the black metal with cheap gold accents and look at the overall shape and style. All it needed was a coat of paint! I went to Rona, got myself a small can of flat white Tremclad, a sponge and the bolts required to install it. Sadly my measuring and overall understanding of the bolt construct was very off – so tonight I’ll be going back and hopefully finding some that are half the size! There is about an inch of space after it has gone through both holes, followed by an inch of actual grooves where you twist the nut onto. So the headboard is currently attached but not well.

DIY Headboard DIY Headboard
The painting process has taken a few days as it takes a long time to dry, not to mention covering a black metal bar with white paint is never an easy job. I still feel after 5 coats it could use another one or two, seems even when you think it’s dry – you can still move the underlying paint around with your new coat. Ugh. Being the impatient girl that I am I was dying to see what the finished product would look like – so with half painted white hands and the strength of my knees to lift the bedframe up to the proper height for the bolt – I attached it to the frame minutes before I expected to sleep.

Always a healthy idea to use very strong paint that probably should only be used outdoors – in your living room so you can get high on paint fumes while watching tv. Then like the genius you are, move the object you’re painting into the room where you are sleeping so that you can kill the maximum amount of brain cells you can in a day. I did leave the bedroom door open so there was a bit of ventilation and I slept with my feet against the head board so I wasn’t as close to it and didn’t paint my hair in my sleep!

It is by no means finished as I had bigger ideas for a more fun look for it aside from flat white. My grand scheme involves ribbons but I have been unimpressed with the price of such things!