One of my favourite movies as a kid was Now and Then. Loved it. It's no surprise then that I love a good before and after renovation, diy or decorating project. This week marks the ONE YEAR anniversary of my time in the condo. It has gone by so quickly. Like quickly as in I haven't even touched the bedroom and have done almost nothing in the bathroom. Keep in mind that this is a 651 square foot condo, so that's like 1/4 of the entire space. Before moving in, I remember thinking "Aw... too bad the move in date isn't closer to Christmas break... What am I going to do with those two weeks off since everything will be painted, decorated and perfect by then?" Those were the actual thoughts going through my head. My move in date was October 29th. I don't even think I was finished unpacking by Christmas, and I definitely only had a couch and a dresser in the living room. Obviously I was delusional.

Although it's taken a long time and it's nowhere near finished, I'm really happy with how everything is coming together. Throughout this year, I bought some furniture (most of it on kijiji for next to nothing) and put some time, effort and love into redoing the pieces so that they were unique. There were the chairs, the kitchen table, the mirror, the dresser that is living as a tv stand (more on that soon) and some other fun projects that I'll post about soon. I've learned a lot and it's been a really rewarding experience to invest (mostly time, sweat and tears) in my home.

BUT it didn't all start that way. Well, sort of. It started with tears. Actually and some sweat too. So basically that's exactly how it was from the beginning. Walking into the condo for the first time was somewhat shocking. I had walked through it as it was being built (when there were just studs and the concrete floor), but I assumed that it would be pretty and perfect by the time I moved in. I was wrong. First of all, I decided not to go with the carpeting that the builder offered because I knew I wanted hardwood. So walking into my brand-new-saved-like-crazy-for-this condo, I was surprised to see that the concrete floor was still there. All naked, stained and ugly. There was also vinyl flooring in the kitchen and bathroom because legally spaces with water have to be "finished" before they can let me move in. That was great because we ripped it all up anyways. Fun times. Well, it was actually fine for me because I didn't do much of that step... The condo also didn't have high-end finishes, there was zero character and I started second guessing my decision. Cue the sweat. Two days later (two days before moving in) I discovered that I had three little cute mouse visitors. Cue the tears. Two humane mouse traps, a kind, brave boyfriend and a few viewings of "The One With the Pheobe's Rats" (which I can't find a clip of), the mice were gone, the floors were in (installed by Matt and my future brother-in-law - you are both amazing and I love you) and so was my stuff!

That was all a drawn out way to say here's what the condo looked like before:

This was the view from the front door. You can see the vinyl flooring (the green tape is where that floor ends and the concrete begins). Those rolls are the sub-floor that was going down under the hardwood.

 The bathroom is directly to your right when you walk in.

And here's the view into the kitchen/"hall" to the front door. The bathroom is the door on the left, right beside the front door.

This is the living room. Doesn't it just scream "Come on it, sit down, stay a while"? On the right are some of the boxes of flooring (that Matt carried up the 3 flights of stairs because the elevators weren't working yet...)

After scraping the vinyl flooring this is what it looked like (with more flooring on the right).

This is the only photo I can find at the moment of the dining room area. And my helpers.

And this is the bedroom.

I know it's not the worst "before" situation, but I was definitely crossing my fingers that things would come together quickly. Once the floors went down a few days later it made a big difference. Thank the Lord. Matt has reminded me several times that if I never saw the condo like this, I wouldn't appreciate it the way it is now and I wouldn't understand how much work goes into transforming a space. He was right. This has definitely been a process in gratitude :).

Goldilock's Favourite Chair


In May, I had my family and Matt's parents over for Mother's Day brunch. It was a lovely day :) It wasn't until about 5 minutes before they all came in that I realized I didn't have enough chairs. There were 7 people and I had 4 dining room chairs. What was even more awkward was that I only had one couch in the living room. It was the first time that my parents were meeting Matt's parents, and they were going to have to be VERY close. To solve the problem that day, I moved all of the kitchen chairs around the living room so that we could all awkwardly eat on our laps sit together. It was a temporary fix, but it worked. Since then I've been looking for accent chairs for the living room. I wanted something that was comfortable, not all wood, not all fabric (because the dining room chairs are mostly fabric), not too big but not too small.

After months of looking, I found these on Kijiji:

They were perfect! I loved the combination of wood and fabric and I knew the wheat/taupe/greige colour would work in the living/dining room (keep in mind this is a 650 square foot condo). It turns out it was an office furniture wholesaler who was selling them. They were originally asking $200 for both, but I got them down to $150. The owner reminded me several times that they were very expensive chairs. Very. Expensive. I believed him and was happy that I'd be getting them for $150.

The only problem with these perfect chairs was that they were 45 minutes away. And we'd have to take two cars. Because I really wanted two. Matt and I have small cars :S But it was okay because they were perfect.

When Matt and I finally got there, this is what I saw (except it was in a warehouse, not in my house).

These blue impostors were NOT my perfect chair! A part of me thought that maybe it was just the warehouse lighting and when I brought them to their home they would change to the perfect colour. That did not happen. I didn't love them. But I did love the boy who drove 45 each way to pick one up so that I could have both. So I bought them. 

The chairs are super comfortable and they're the perfect size. It's hard to find chairs that you can cross your legs in, and these ones are the perfect width for that. The only think I didn't like was the fabric.

The material is also tweed-ish and rough instead of smooth like they looked in the photo.

What do you think? I imagine it would be expensive to have them reupholstered... Maybe I could try it myself? Have any advice?

The Science of Gratitude

When I was in high school, Science was definitely my worst subject. It was difficult for me to wrap my brain around the equations and technical language. This video called "The Science of Happiness - An Experiment in Gratitude" explains an important theory in a way that even I can understand :)

Let's all try to be a little more grateful. Apparently we'll be happier. Enjoy!

Pillow Talk

Do you ever feel like everything happens all at once? That's how I've been feeling lately. Although I technically have the month off work, it's been super busy!

My seamstress mother (who's work you've seen here and here) said when I bought the fabric for the curtains that she would make some pillows for me. I was super grateful but wasn't sure if I was a pillows-match-the-drapes kind of girl. Turns out, I like it! The pillows really brighten up the couch.

Here's what the couch looked like before with the cushions that my wonderful friend Stacey gave to me when she leant/gifted me her couch. Love her!

And here's what it looks like now with the new pillows :)

Now I just feel like I need more!

I know it's not a huge difference, but they still make me smile :). Except for when people touch them or sit on them. I'm working on that.

Grateful for...

The south of France.

Although I could stay in Paris forever, it's always nice to spend the last week of the trip in the south. It's a nice change of pace and I love that we get to go to so many places. We stay in Antibes and do afternoon/evening trips to Cannes, Monaco, Nice and Juan-les-Pins. It's pretty amazing.

I'm also grateful for my colleagues on the trip! A few hours after talking with another teacher on the trip (who became a good friend) after a difficult day, I came out of my hotel room to find these waiting for me. She knew I was a sucker for fresh flowers. I may have cried a little.

I got to know the wonderful woman who cleaned my room during the three weeks in Paris, so I left them for her with a card when we left for the south. You know, passing the joy along.

While we're on the subject, here are some photos from the flower market in Nice. I could have stayed there all day.

On the excursion to Grasse to do a tour of Fragonard (the first perfumery), we stopped in a little village called St-Paul-de-Vence. That's where I snapped this photo. People actually live here. Crazy. It's hard to tell but there's a beautiful view through that crack between the two buildings.

This last photo I took in Eze, a village we stopped in on the way to Monaco. I am absolutely in love with this sign. In English, it says "If you take my parking spot, take my handicap". Amen.

I probably should have taken many more photos during the last week, but because they were all places I had been several times before, I wasn't as trigger happy as I normally am. Either way, it was a wonderful month but I'm glad to be home!

Grateful for...


For the past two summers I've worked for a company that pays you to travel the world for the month of July. And everything is free. Everything. Oh wait, except lunches.
This summer, I'm doing the same trip that I did last summer - Paris for three weeks and the south of France for a week. Hard life, I know.

Although it sounds amazing, there is some work involved. The company is called Global Journeys and it's for students from Ontario who want to get a credit over the summer while traveling overseas. Last year I taught for the first week, and then was the Group Leader of the trip; in charge of everything that happened outside of the classroom. This year, I'm teaching the grade 11/12 French Immersion class solo. And it has been amazing. Amazing.

Here are some of the things I'm grateful for from the first week:

Sitting in Jardin du Luxembourg watching the jets practice for Bastille Day this weekend after having a picnic and teaching in the park.

Getting to the Louvre before anyone else and watching the Parisians head off to work.

Hot chocolate and pastries at the famous Café Angelina.

The beautiful village of Chartres.

And it's incredible cathedral.

Walking the Champs-Elysées (this year, no floods or storms!)

Spending time in Monet's gardens and walking through his house.

Nighttime boat rides on the Seine.

And the fact that I am doing all of these wonderful things for free. And getting paid.
Last time, I promise.

Dresser to TV Stand (part one)

I've mentioned Chelsea's blog once before because she's done some pretty amazing DIY projects. My favourite project of her's is the dresser that she turned into a TV stand. You should check it out because it's AMAZING! It's that post that inspired my current tv housing situation. I knew I didn't want anything that was black, chrome or a wall unit. It wasn't until I saw Chelsea's stand on Pinterest that I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Instead of doing what most people do when they decide they want a new piece of furniture (going to a furniture store), I decided to check out kijiji in my pjs. It took a few weeks of scouring and inquiring before I found this baby:

I had originally taken some photos of it on my phone, but when I bought a new phone not all of them transfered properly. Here's the only one I can find (I had already primed the gold inlay and taken the pulls off). It actually looks much nicer than it was, trust me.

I scored this dresser, as well as a night stand and a smaller dresser that I'm using in the dining room (pictured below) for $125, delivery included. Not bad for solid wood, good quality dressers.

One night while I was watching tv I decided to open up a can of primer and cover all of the gold inlay. I had already decided that I wanted to paint it the same colour as the dresser, so I knew I had to do this step, even if I hadn't picked a paint colour yet. This is usually how my DIY projects start, randomly without much of a plan.

After priming the inlay, I sanded and primed all the drawer fronts. Living in a condo with just a balcony, it's hard to do big projects here, so I only did the drawers at my place.

I used a spray primer, Zinsser BIN, which is a shellac primer. The woman at Home Depot recommended it when they didn't have my favourite Zinsser primer in a spray can.

In this shot you can really see that it needed some love... I had already sloppily primed the inlay at this point.

I sanded the drawers, wiped them down, vacuumed the creases and sprayed them with a coat of primer.

It took about 45 minutes to sand and spray all 9 drawers. And look at the difference!

It was looking better already. After seeing how much better they looked, I contemplated keeping the dresser white. But then I changed my mind back to charcoal grey.

Here's a little peak into the chaos and disaster that always happens mid-project.

After doing the drawers, I took the dresser to Matt's house to sand, prime and paint the dresser. Two of the drawers didn't close properly, so Matt fixed it. You can see in this photo that the top of the dresser was in rough shape.

Here's a close-up of the grungy-ness. You can see that stickers were removed, which wasn't the case with the night table, which is sporting some pretty bad ass glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs.

We (yes, we - even though there's only photographic evidence of Matt's contribution) sanded the top with the electric sander and hand sanded the rest.

The spray primer wasn't working like I'd hoped, so I went back to Home Depot for a can of the same Zinsser primer. I figured it'd be best to keep it the same as the drawers.

There is almost ALWAYS a moment in a project where I feel like I've ruined it and that it will never turn out the way I imagined. So far, this has never turned out to be the case, but in that moment I figure it's over. I have even been known to throw my hands up and cry. Then Matt gently puts my hands back down and tells me we can fix it. This happened during this project once I had finished priming the entire piece.

The whole thing was covered in this thick, coarse, popcorn ceiling yuck!

I freaked out and felt like crying. That's when Matt came into the garage and said "Uhh were you planning on wearing those jeans again?" You see, only I would decide that I'm such a pro that I can paint in my favourite jeans without getting any on me. False.

I thought it would be a great idea to save money and buy foam rollers at the dollar store. Matt tried to dissuade me, but I wouldn't listen. They kept falling off throughout the priming stage, and I kept having to use more (good thing I got 6 for a dollar). Apparently at some point in the process I sat on one of those rollers. Sweet. He proved his love for me by saying "Let's go buy paint, then we'll come back and sand the dresser" instead of "I told you so". He's a keeper.

That's when I found I also had paint in my hair. I'm still picking little pieces of it out of my hair to this day. This primer really does stick to anything.

I chose Benjamin Moore Advance water based enamel alkyd paint (like I used for the kitchen table) in Kendall Charcoal. Turns out it wasn't as dark as I thought it would be, but I'm happy with the result.
After a quick sand job, the dresser was looking smooth. I decided not to do a second coat of primer to save my sanity.

The paint dried much darker than this.

After two coats on the dresser and drawers it was done!

Here's what it looks like now:

I'm really happy with it! Now I have to do the second step - removing the top drawers, painting inside, adding some wood shelves and cutting some holes in the back for the wires. I have a feeling it may be a while.

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