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DIY Friday: How To Make the Most of Awkward Space

As we all grow older and accumulate our collections, it becomes harder and harder to hold on to all the things we thought we would never have to give up when we were younger. Because we will always want to decorate with beer bottles. Always have a special place for our treasure trolls. Always be able to retire on the riches waiting for us in our beanie baby family. And when it comes to finding a place to put all our collections, what to do, what to do? Buy a new piece of furniture to house everything? Put up a bookcase? How about using some useless space you probably wouldn’t  be doing anything with anyway?

At the top of the stairs lies a magical Munny/Dunny land

At the top of the stairs lies a magical Munny/Dunny land

One such collection that has not gone the way of the Vuarnet t shirt is my vinyl toy collection, mostly populated by Kid Robot figurines. Childish? Perhaps, according to some. Difficult to dust? Absolutely. Hard to find an appropriate display space? Completely. So what to do?

step one

First, find a place in your house that has usable space, but not enough that you can put anything there that sits on the floor or can accommodate furniture. Corners in hallways, at the top of stairwells or in old-er house nooks and crannies are a great place to start.

Light, Bright and Awkward! Now what??? housetohome.co.uk

STEP TWO

Find the right shelf. Are you looking for something that stands out as a piece on its own, or do you want your collection to be the focus with no competition from the shelving?

Modern Wall Shelf $29 urbanoutfitters.com

Simple and on the pastel trend, a shelf like this will get noticed as well as your collectibles.

 

Miniature display case $80 c/o Heezome on Etsy.com

This is a good choice for an in the middle option if you have a bunch of little treasures you want to display, but want a shelf that has a streamlined style that doesn’t take away from all your tchotchkes. To turn it up a notch, this can easily be painted in something bright (aqua?) or bold (like maybe actual gold spray paint?).

format cube $29.95 from cb2.com

 

If you want to be all about your thimble collection and not about the shelf at all, consider something that blends like this lucite shelf from CB2.com. This was the route that we decided to take as well, though we wanted something that mirrored the look of the trim and style of our 1920’s semi. In our case, this is what we did:

Melannco 4-Piece Ledge Set in Black $39.99 on bedbathandbeyond.ca

This was the shelving kit we bought, because we couldn’t find one in white, which was what we originally wanted. Obviously it comes in white now. To cover up the dark wood colour, we used trusty Zissner Bullseye Primer (you can get it by name at pretty much any hardware store, or online at Lowes.ca or Homedepot.ca), and then a top coat of high gloss white to finish it off. This is also the best primer to use if you’re trying to extend the life of your old mid 2000’s dark wood laminate furniture, like we did here with an Ikea Expedit bookcase.

Nobody puts Smorkin Labbit in the corner!… Except me, by choice.

STEP THREE

We used construction adhesive to stick the shelves to the wall and we stood there and held/pushed them in place for 5 minutes each. They are straight, my photo is not.

Sluggy smorker, up to no good

And there you have it: 2 birds, one proverbial stone. Put your corners to work and give your collections the attention they deserve! Because how can anyone appreciate your penchant for oddly sized shot classes or gnome shaped tealight holders if they’re wasting away in a cupboard? Exactly. And you’re welcome.

 

bfd

 

 

BFD Reveal: A Dated Bathroom In A Toronto Semi is Reborn!

When we first moved into our ubiquitous semi in Toronto’s east end (you know the one: group of 2, porch on front, single or two small windows on second floor) there were a few issues we were forced to contend with immediately in our century old home. #1 was all the closed off space, which was easily (temporarily) remedied by taking all the doors off on the main floor. A close second was the bathroom. It was not charming.

A For Effort, But this bathroom STILL has gotta go! We can see you, avocado toilet!

An A For Effort, but this bathroom STILL has gotta go! We can see you, aging toilet!

The glass was taken down on the first day, but we needed a plan, and fast, of how we were going to wipe this yellow slate clean.

Slightly better without the glass microbe collector... But not by much

Slightly better without the glass microbe collector… But not by much

The linoleum barely fit the floor it was hastily cut for, and the wallpaper? We suspect it was a late addition to the decor mix once whoever was trying to sell the house saw the lovely shade of royal blue that lay beneath (and still peeked out of unpasted corners) and wisely determined that the French Provincial intent of the design (yellow + blue = French Provincial, right??) was not being pulled off. Not even close.

The smashing sounds make the colour combo slightly better...

The smashing sounds make the colour combo slightly better…

Fast forward to our first month in the house.Home Depot Installation services were called, and we were quoted a new bathroom based on a gut job and being rebuilt from the studs. The total came in over our $10,000 budget by about $2,500.  Easy solution: call in all those accumulated (moving, cleaning, driving, whatever) favours from friends and do the demo ourselves. Effective budgeting level 1 achieved!

Don't let the door hit you on your way out!

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!

Needless to say, the dust was ridiculous. Something to be prepared for when demoing a house made pretty much anytime before the 70’s.. it’s got plaster walls. And plaster walls suck for demo and dust. They also, depending on the age of the plaster MAY have horse hair in it. No, I am not joking (our house was built around 1920… so not everyone was filling their walls with car parts for consistency just yet).

Later, Tub!

Later, Tub!

Tub in situ, still works!

Tub in situ, still works!

Blechy dust blech

Blechy dust blech

And one sweaty long weekend of demo later...

And one sweaty long weekend of demo later…

Nothing but a bucket to piss in!

Nothing but a bucket to piss in!

Just kidding. We used the window. (And we had a bathroom in the basement)

With the demo complete, so began the construction of what didn’t really have a lot to compete against in terms of being a superior bathroom to the one we had. Because we were using a contractor from Home Depot Installation Services, we did choose some of our fixtures from Home Depot. The bathtub, toilet, floor and shower tile and shower fixtures were all ordered from Homey Dee’s. The sink console and fixtures, however, were ordered from Ikea. (Everything doesn’t have to come from Home Depot when using their contractors, FYI; A happy discovery for us as we wanted to have more choice than what one store offered, and we loved the below so much more than anything we were able to find in store)

We also cannot recommend the double sink enough. If you have an ‘economically’ sized main bathroom where two people are likely to be getting up and ready and brushing teeth, hair etc at the same time, don’t think that the extra counter space is going to do it for you in terms of ‘sharing space effectively’. Because it’s not. You are much better off with two sinks and storage underneath, or a shelf on the wall beside the console instead. Save yourself the fights over the faucet and in front of the mirror space. It’ll also be much more appealing for resale, because you actually have a double console sink and not just a counter for bath salts or Q Tips or whatever… Which nobody ever highlights in their home feature listings on MLS.

Hello fresh new bathtub and waterproofed drywall!

Hello fresh new bathtub and waterproofed drywall!

It’s moments like these that you truly realize what kind of seriously adult stuff just came out of your mouth. Because you’re excited about your new BATH TUB.

Hello vertical subway tile!

Hello vertical subway tile!

And your new tile! *jazz hands* The tile was relatively inexpensive at less than $1.50/ sq ft. We went with the vertical instead of the traditional horizontal because a) horizontal is more traditional and b) to give the shower area the appearance of height. It’s little aesthetic tricks like this that go a long way to making your bathroom more fabulous and spacious (looking) than the lowest common denominator. Sticking with white was a choice we made because a white bathroom is always fresh and clean (providing you clean it) to look at, and is much less likely to become dated over time than one with bold motif/colour choices that are not easily changed—case and point, our previous bathroom.

No touching!!!

Now with marble floor tile. No touching!!!

Whenever possible, try to save money on tile, tubs and toilets, because if you have a standard layout bathroom like this (which is common to a significant % of Toronto houses) people will be looking for the details/value in higher end fixture, fittings and lighting. There’s no need to go crazy with tile (and it’s hard, trust) if you’re trying to be budget conscious and white porcelain will do. The bathtub, unless you are having a standalone spa unit (and therefore are probably not looking to keep your bathroom reno under $10,000) does not need to be top of the line fancy, because there is very little difference aside from the front panel image (sometimes it’s a way thing… sometimes flat, sometimes a little picture frame like) with your basic bathtubs. Again, for resale, nobody is going to be able to tell that you threw down and extra $1,000 for cast iron, and they probably aren’t going to want to pay any more for it even if you did.

We now have toilet, sink AND light!!!

We now have toilet, sink AND light!!! (apologies for picture quality, we were prob excited and jumping at the time)

When choosing the toilet, we went eco with the low flow option (always helps to do your bit for the environment wherever possible!) and we also chose one that didn’t have the faux plumbing porcelain tubing that a lot of toilets have, because it’s an unnecessary detail that’s a pain in the ass to keep clean. And it literally does nothing!

AMERICAN STANDARD Cadet 3 Two piece Dual Flush 1.59 Gal. Elongated Toilet $239 Homedepot.ca

See that back curly bit? It doesn’t do anything but collect dust and germs. A small point for some, but not for those on hands and knees cleaning family bathrooms.

AMERICAN STANDARD Cadet 3 Concealed Trapway Two Piece 1.27 Gal. Elongated Toilet $249 HomeDepot.ca

See the difference with this one? Much more clean in look and stature, save germs for other areas like toothbrushes instead.

Just add mirror ($50 from Ikea, same width as sink!) and TA DA!

Just add mirror ($50 from Ikea, same width as sink!) and TA DA!

We decided to paint the bathroom door a bright yellow (was originally supposed to have a little more green in it) because we saw a pin on Pinterest and thought it would be cool, and because we’re lazy. Think about it. “Where’s your bathroom? Upstairs, turn right, it’s the first door on your left, or is it right.. Wait, and you have to be facing east.”  Or…. Bathroom? Why yes! We DO have one of those! Upstairs. Yellow door. Much easier.

Original Feature Wall (across from sink and toilet)

Original Feature Wall (across from sink and toilet) whatisblik.com

We decided to add one wall of colour with a cool vinyl wallpaper we found online figuring vinyl, bathroom, waterproof, makes sense. Except that it didn’t because eventually those drippy details you see for artistic effect became real drippies when water got on them, and then the paper didn’t look so cool anymore. What we neglected to do was read the fine print when we bought it that EXPLICITLY states that this type of vinyl has the design printed ON TOP and should not be in areas prone to moisture. So yeah. -1 for BFD.

The best thing about the wallpaper from Spoonflower is that it comes pre glued and all you have to do is soak it in water in your bathtub to adhere it to the wall. So that whole water/moisture issue we had with the previous paper was totally moot. +1 BFD. And it is pre cut so it fits your wall’s dimensions exactly and you don’t need to worry about matching patterns or running out. +2 BFD. There are also, literally, thousands of wallpaper designs on this site, so when you’re sick of what you’ve got, it is very easy to take down the old and put up something new for only $5/ft!

Leelu much prefers the warm colours of this paper anyway

Leelu much prefers the warm colours of this paper anyway

The Final BFD Product Bathroom Reno Accomplished

The Final BFD Product: Bathroom Reno Accomplished

FullSizeRender

BFD: Want us to design for you? We’d LOVE to!

 

Hope everyone is enjoying their #holidayMonday

 

Bfd.

Travel With Towels: A Helping Hand (Towel) for the Long Weekend!

The most difficult thing about visiting all of the fabulous stores we did while on holiday is having to leave all of the fabulous things they sell at the stores and not be able to take any of it with us.  As you saw in our previous design porn post from Oslo, there was plenty of heartbreakingly beautiful furniture, lighting and etc that we could not (afford, not even a little) take with us. The one exception to our no furniture (not even flat pack) rule? Towels.

Towels are a great way to placate/fool yourself into thinking you’re bringing home some seriously alternative and  exclusive decor ‘from the continent’ because they are affordable, packable and you always need them. Like seriously, who doesn’t need towels? Bath towels? Hand towels?  Viking Ship Museum tea towels? Check.

These were our first towel investment care of Oxford Street Marks and Spencer in London. You can actually buy them online if you want via the link above, but shipping can be expensive sometimes when coming from the UK thanks to the duty you have to pay. Then again, if it’s only a few towels you’re getting, they may very well squeeze by unnoticed. Not that we would know. *cough*

Towels for HAY by Scholten & Baijings in Cherokee Red (and mint green, with grey and white and a stripe of green!)

Towels for HAY by Scholten & Baijings in Cherokee Red (and mint green, with grey and white and a stripe of green!)

Ok, just one more. These towels are just that good. Yes, Towels.

Ok, just one more. These towels are just that good. Yes, Towels.

So if we thought that just the hand towels from London were enough, obviously we were fooling ourselves. If you haven’t had the pleasure, check out Hay of Denmark’s unbelievably drool worthy furniture, homewares and textiles. With shops around Scandinavia, their minimalist style is totally in line with the esthetic sensibilities of the Scandinavian Modern look (if you’re not familiar, follow My Scandinavian Home on Instagram, or visit her blog here).

this Hackney Carriage Sofa by Wrong for HAY mocks me with it’s divine velvet feels

Seeing as it’s gray and cold and miserable outside, and it’s a long weekend, it may make sense to try and do a few things around the house/cottage/INSIDE to try to brighten up the place and make sure it’s ready for when summer comes back. (’cause Toronto weather’s hilarious like that) Might we suggest a few hand towels for a toilet revamp? (throw pillows are another ace, inexpensive alternative for refreshing the domain, but we’re not writing about those today)

It never hurts to reevaluate your white towel collection (you should always have white towels: they go with EVERY bathroom, and freshen up the room better than any other). Recycle the dingy ones and use them in your swiffer as a mop alternative or as rags for cleaning/polishing your finest silverware and tiaras. If you don’t have any,  get a good deal on a few at Winners or Homesense to get started. Trust.

Nautical AND Scandi style together! Enjoy the Simons (BEST place to shop when in Quebec City/Montreal)

Turkish bath towels are a nice change for the summer months. Lighter and available in tons of colours, they can also double as a sarong walking down to the dock or a blanket for picnics.

Or you could take the stripey and go with the traditional terry style.. Totally your call. (or buy them both!)

Or you could go for something a little more drastic with this punchy jacquard print from Zara Home. Did you know you can order Zara Home online and they ship here? You DON’T have to go to Yorkdale! You’re welcome.

Wishing you all a relaxing Victoria Day Weekend!

 

bfd