organizing the ikea pax

As you may recall, our apartment came equipped with an IKEA Pax wardrobe unit in the bedroom.
You can see through the frosted glass that the two sides are different. My side is the left side, and Parker’s is the right. Parker has many more drawers and organizational elements on his side, and I envied him! So this morning I decided to do something about it.

Here are the unfortunate befores. While my clothes were folded and put away, they were by no means neat. Even Parker commented on the disorganized and chaotic appearance of the closet.

I saw two major problems with the current setup. One, I needed more drawers and/or shelves to contain my wealth of folded clothes, particularly sweaters and jeans. Two, there was a second clothes bar that was going unused and was in the way of my clothes hanging properly.

I am one of those people who loves to have a perfectly neat closet, but can rarely keep it that way for long! I even remember long folding parties when living with Emma at Interlochen. I like to fold things on a board ever since working at Banana Republic age 18, but I don’t ever remember to pull out the board when folding my laundry. So eventually, things become disorderly. Also, at the end of the day I have the bad habit of just throwing things in the closet or on the dresser. My goal with this closet reorganization was to try to construct a system that I could maintain despite my bad habits, or at least with short folding binges every once in a while.

First, I took down the second bar and gave it to Clyde.

Then, I headed to Target to find a soft hanging shelf unit. It cost somewhere around $9. I carefully board-folded my clothes and placed them in the shelf unit.

I also stole a set of Ikea hooks from Parker’s side, and decided I would be more likely to hang my pants at the end of the day than to fold them.
The hooks slide right back in!
I re-folded everything in my drawers, too.

And finally, voila!

Not perfect, but so much better. I feel like I can actually find my clothes now! And when winter comes along, I will have room for all my bulky sweaters when I move my summer-weight clothes into the storage closet in the living room. Huzzah!


lackluster lighting

Our apartment came equipped with some odd lighting choices. In fact, in a four-room+bathroom apartment, every single room has a fixture that is strange in some way. Want a tour?

Let’s start in the living room, with the droopiest ceiling fan:
Surely the blades are not meant to be at that angle! And the frosted glass look is not to my taste, either. (I dream of a fan like Kim and Scott’s new find to replace it!)

Heading towards the back of the house, here is the dirty and stark ceiling fixture in the study:
To make matters worse, the bulbs that we found in there when we moved in are at radically different temperatures:
I have big plans to follow Jenny’s instructions to make my own light and replace it! I think this fun DIY would work with both purposes of the room, which are (for right now) a study and a bar area. :)

In the kitchen, I have already mentioned the weirdness that is the green plywood ceiling medallion. Here’s a better photo, showing how it enhances the “beauty” of the cherry-and-frosted-glass fan.
It would be great to have an Aluma in here too, and get rid of that ceiling medallion!

Back in the bedroom, there are six (!) recessed lights for an 11’x11′ room. Excessive. But even stranger, one of them has an off-white canister, while all the others are true white.

And last, but certainly not least, the award for actually gross goes to the light in the bathroom.
Yep, that’s rust.

small updates with big impact

Today, I made two small updates around the house that I think made a big difference.

ONE: I spray painted the nasty A/C unit that lives in our wall. (Side note: we never use the a/c and kind of want to replace this unit with a stained glass window? Is that totally nuts?)
Here is a before photo:

And here are some process shots. First, I took the cover off and uncovered a world of nastiness. Witness the furballs hanging onto the screws that held the cover on.

After a serious cleaning, I spray painted with Rustoleum Protective Enamel in Flat White. I painted the part still in the wall with the same Zinsser primer and Clark + Kensington paint combo I used on the trim throughout the room.

I let it dry overnight, then hung it back up.
Wow! … am I right?! So much better. Although it’s still an ugly part of the room, at least now it recedes rather than being framed with brown wood. I seriously think this A/C unit might date from 1987, making it my age. Woof. (PS: We still need to switch out that outlet!)

TWO: I ran to this amazing local fabric/yarn store, Gather Here, and picked up three cute fabrics. I was sick of our couch throw pillow worn-out-cover situation (glimpsed here), and our bed’s throw pillow just didn’t go with our new bedding. Et voilà! New pillowcases make everything better.
It probably took me 45 minutes to make three pillowcases, making me wonder why I had never done so before. Ah, laziness!

we’re in cambridge! and making painting progress!

We got here on Tuesday, July 29, after I suggested in all seriousness that we leave Toronto at 3 AM — and, guess what, we did! We caravan-ed in the Fit and Penske truck smoothly all the way here. Truthfully, it could not have gone any smoother with getting the truck (in Niagara, USA), loading it (with our former building’s GIGANTIC freight elevator), driving across the border, or unloading it here in Cambridge. It was seriously smooth. I mean, a nine-hour drive that starts at 3 AM is always fatiguing, but it was an easy ride other than that! We even had friends over that night for a few American beers. :)

It took me a few days to recover from the exhaustion brought on by this drive, but by Saturday we were painting! As I discussed before, I was having serious issues coming up with the white paint that I thought would be best in this space. I put many white paint chips on a few walls and looked at them for a few days. We considered BM and Clark + Kensington colors, but ended up loving BM Chantilly Lace. Over on Little Green Notebook, Jenny had mentioned that Ben Moore Chantilly Lace was a pure white with less yellow than BM Simply White, and we really saw the difference! We wanted a crisp, clean white that if anything was a little cool after the gross warm tones our apartment was painted when we moved in. After deliberation, I decided that the trim paint should also be Chantilly Lace, but in semi-gloss (the walls are in flat). To save some money, I had these colors mixed up in Clark + Kensington paint, color matched to BM Chantilly Lace.

So, our plan was (and is) to go room-by-room. With that in mind, we set up our bed in the living room and started with the bedroom. We’ve since made huge progress in the living room as well, but today is about the bedroom!

Here’s the before, from the real estate listing.

I mean, the wood trim! We learned since moving in that our entire building was gut-renovated in 1987, and that’s definitely when all the wood trim dates from. We also learned that this gut job was done by a guy who was sort of an amateur. He did some things well, and others poorly. That’s definitely what we’ve noticed as we’ve been working. At any rate, this was not beautiful historical wood. It was gross 80’s wood. And it had to go.

Here’s a picture that shows the wall color a little better. It was a creamy, yellow-ish color. You can also see our glamorous taping job and hardworking Ikea chair.

Maybe the scariest discovery of the room (minor in the grand scheme of things!) was that the room used to be painted a vivid red color. (They also did a crummy job painting, so I was sanding down a massive drip when I found this!)

We did a good amount of this:

And finally arrived at this!


photo 2

So much better, right?! In addition to the window and door trim, we also painted the disgusting baseboard heater covers (which we would love to replace someday) — a nice coat of white paint really helped, though.


I hoarded our bedding for a while. We bought it at EQ3 in Toronto, and the pattern is called Phlox. I really love the calm but visually interesting pattern. The bed and nighstands are IKEA. The lamps (which I think I am going to move elsewhere) are both from Target.

Another small change with big impact was switching out the outlets and outlet covers to pure white. Parker did a great job with this!

2014-08-08 10.52.45
(gif made with the Party Party app!)
I love how restful and simple our bedroom is now! What a big difference a couple coats of paint makes :) Maybe I will share our (simple!) painting process on another day.

cambridge apartment: the ugly before

It’s been a hot minute since I posted anything over here in my little corner of the web, but I am so excited to say we are moving back to Cambridge from Toronto. Toronto?! you might ask. Last you heard, we were in the big CA! But then last spring, I was accepted into a Masters program up here in the Great White North. So Northwards we came!

But now, we’re coming back! I’ll be starting my Ph.D. at Harvard in the fall (VERITAS!) and Parker’s got good things in the works too. But honestly, what we are both looking forward to is a serious revamp of our place. See, we found the perfect apartment. But it needs a little lovin’!

Here she is from the outside, just to entice you to leap past the cut into the … ahem … befores…
Screen shot 2014-05-04 at 4.06.49 PM

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outdoor bench revamp

One of the things I liked the most about our little house when we moved in was the back patio. It has so much potential! There is a built in bench, and it is covered with a corrugated plastic roof, so it is sheltered from the rain. I envisioned making it into an outdoor dining room and maybe even buying a grill!

Four months later…

outdoor bench before

Yep. I was also bummed with myself. Would you ever sit there? I wouldn’t. Also, this is AFTER I scrubbed it with bleach.

With a little fabric and foam, plus three zippers and two pillow forms, we now have:

outdoor bench after 2

We got the foam from an upholstery foam outlet in town. The owner custom-cut it for us out of a massive piece of foam so it exactly fit the weird trapezoid that was the bench (for only $40!). I made the cover for it out of bargain bin fabric. It was a huge pain in the butt and I made a ton of mistakes so I don’t think I’m qualified to tell you how to do it! However, I am proud of how it turned out!

I also made the solid-colored pillowcases. For those, basically I just sewed straight lines and installed a zipper using the instructions found in the zipper package. The other pillow is from Target.

I love our revamped bench! Now if we could only get a table out there… hm… xo. h

make your own roman blinds

I don’t know about you, but for me, there’s nothing that says “rental” like those awful plastic Venetian blinds. They’re always broken and always seem dirty. They always go up crooked. And in our case, they were this awful ivory color (the walls are white). When we moved into our little house, we decided to replace them.

Want to do the same? Can you sew in a straight line? Can you use a hammer? Can you loop thread a million times around a little ring? Good, you can make roman blinds.

roman blind living room

I used this tutorial from Jen Duncan’s blog. It was so straightforward. I’ve made five total around the house!

The best part about the ones in the bedroom is that they are so light and airy that we never have to open them! This is great because that room is on a busy street and, well, it’s our bedroom so we want it to be cozy and private. Duh.

roman blind bedroom

Would you try this to spruce up your space? I heartily recommend it! xo. H