Even though the progress of the renovation has significantly slowed down since our demolition earlier last year (we started in May 2017) it still feels like an ongoing make work project. The main reason, being of course our schedules and being away from home often, but also the constant waiting around for orders and furniture to arrive. I quickly understood why it can take people years to finish their renos. With the exception of a few things most of the furniture takes up to a few weeks to deliver, in some cases even months, our arm chair was quickly christened by Charlie and we had to get it cleaned numerous times (with no success) and the gallery wall took a minute to complete in light of custom framing. At the end of the day the whole project was quite the learning experience but I loved every moment of it. The excitement of change, starting something anew and seeing it’s progress, even if a slow one, are some of the most rewarding things about it. It also gives you perspective. I have to say that looking back at the photos of how my parents had decorated this apartment, the apartment I grew up in, it really wasn’t so bad after all. I always complained about it, but seeing it from a fresh point of view, there could have been many improvements done to it with just a few small changes, though it wouldn’t have stopped me from completely gutting it, ha! Note that the ‘before’ photos were kind of an after thought when we started packing things up, hence the mess.
CARPET – The carpet was one of the first things that clearly had to go. Living in a small space with pets makes it the top reason why, aesthetics and practicality are close behind. Carpet cleaning is a giant hassle and if you are worried abut noise you can always use cork underlay to appease the neighbours. It’s a little more expensive but you also get the added warmth to make it worth it. Not that apartment dwellers really consider that a problem (to the best of my knowledge). Our white laminate floor was hard to find since we were specific on what shade we wanted it to be. We ended up with one from Evoke Flooring through a Calgary re-seller, which we most defiantly overpaid for, it it 8mm and very soft, causing it to be prone to dents and now that I search for it online, it is no longer available. I guess we know why. But it LOOKS great!
TIP: When deciding on a floor make sure to shop around and take samples of the floor to test out for a few days before making the final commitment
CEILING – You can’t see it in the before photos here but the popcorn ceiling was another really big change that just had to happen. It made for a really messy first few days of demolition, and we are still finding white dust around the house, however I can not stress enough what a vital part of the renovation this decision was. It opened up the entire space, made it more modern and cleaner than it has ever looked. It really makes you question how any of these original features were ever actually a desirable selling point. 1995 (when this condo was built) isn’t even that long ago!
TIP: Hire a general handy man to scrape your ceiling, or do it yourself, we were being quoted up to $5,000 for this job but ended up finding someone who did it for an hourly rate within two days time and without the additional hassle of spraying the ceiling. It is NOT as complicated as many trades people make it seem, just make sure they have experience with dry wall and that you hire a good painter.
Carpet cleaning is a giant hassle and if you are worried abut noise you can always use cork underlay to appease the neighbours.
It opened up the entire space, made it more modern and cleaner than it has ever looked.
CUSTOM SHELVING – Even though we are only focusing on the living room I wanted to give you a peek at the surrounding areas around the main living space. The linen closet was taken out completely and converted to a bookshelf. In our old apartment, that coincidentally had the same layout, that nook was somehow deeper and we had used the space in a different way. When we found out that the apartments actually had slightly different measurements (thanks to the genius Canadian building standards) we had to make a new plan. We decided to get rid of storage from our living space all together, no more bookshelves, no TV, just seating, plants and an impromptu bar cart. As a result a hallway bookshelf made sense, our books were still on display and easily accessible. It was a great way to repurpose that space. We had to cut out a chunk of the wall and are still hoping the building doesn’t collapse on us. We had to have the shelves custom made to maximize the space. It was an interesting process to say the least. I feel like I have a lot left to learn in that department. Don’t forget the beautiful skulls we got at Evoke The Spirit in Sayulita two Christmases ago. I am so obsessed I could have them hanging on every wall. How much is too much really?
TIP: The most important thing is to find a exceptional carpenter, note: not good, EXCEPTIONAL. Like with all the trades, you need people who will take pride in the work that they do, they have to look at every project as if it was created for a magazine, regardless of size or cost. And even when you find that person you STILL have to be there when they do the actual work, because people’s preferences are all over the map and they can’t read your mind. I will be talking about this again when we get to our kitchen and bathrooms, just wait till you hear the stories!
Like with all the trades, you need people who will take pride in the work that they do, they have to look at every project as if it was created for a magazine, regardless of size or cost.
Try layering your rugs for a more bohemian vibe.
POT LIGHTS – when you are 5’10” and have 8 foot ceilings, finding perfect lighting can be really tricky, on top of that there is a lot of free standing lighting in the living room already, so for the sake of not cluttering the ceiling space we decided to go for pot lights. We had them in our last apartment and loved how un-obtrusive they were. They add much needed light without being overbearing, this way you can have more of them, and if you live on the top floor and have access to your attic, even better! Our electrician is a GENIUS! We love them so much we want all of you to call Benco Electric when you have electrical work on the horizon. Truly, they were the best ones to work with throughout the entire renovation. I wanted something done and they made it happen, no questions no excuses, they checked off my entire list of requests, they even did things ahead of time because they saw a comment I made on my IG stories (!!). They rewired lamps we ordered from Europe, they moved ceiling holes 5 times because I kept changing my mind and didn’t complain about it once. They were on time, super clean and always done early. 100% not sponsored nor gifted, just THAT GOOD. Scratch that. EXCEPTIONAL!
TIP: Before you do any electrical work make sure your electrician is licensed, insured and certified. If you don’t know anything about it and are trusting strangers with something potentially dangerous you want to make sure you have someone to blame OR just call Benco!
Think about your pet and his standard of living when you renovate... We love being able to make this a cat friendly AND beautiful space.
CAT TREE – You will notice that Charlie’s cat tree aka kitty condo is on full display in our living room. I decided to keep it in these photos to prove that you can have your pet be part of your living space and not have to sacrifice aesthetics to do it. We found the most beautiful cat furniture on one of the cat Instagram accounts I follow (S/O @mr_cattington), you can get a variety of configurations, sizes and replacement parts on amazon under the Vesper brand.
AREA RUGS – You will notice the persian rugs everywhere in our house. It was always my dream to fill my spaces with as many of these as I could afford (which at this moment is three lol). Because we created the perfect white box, with white floors, and white finishings the coloured rugs give the space personality and life. We have this long hallway and with Charlie having some issues with walking due to his diabetes we thought that it also allowed him a little break from sliding on the laminate. We got ours at Pazyryk Art in Inglewood, they don’t run cheap but will 100% be those investment pieces that will travel with you from home to home. Try layering your rugs for a more bohemian vibe. The cow hide we have is from Ikea, we chose the color that would contrast best with the flooring but also compliment the other rugs around it.
TIP: Think about your pet and his standard of living when you renovate. Charlie spends all of his life in this apartment so we want to make sure that his life here is as comfortable as possible. We love being able to make this a cat friendly AND beautiful space.
After all these years EQ3 still remains our favourite furniture store, and is Canadian!
SOFA – Finally the furniture! The most important pieces for us were the couch and the coffee table. They are the most used in the whole house so they have to be able to withstand the test of time. Let’s be realistic, even when you re-decorate these are the pieces that will remain constant. We’ve had a black fabric couch in the past and quickly learned our lesson to never go for a dark color again, light colors are also hard, especially when you have a cat and a man living with you, so that was out. Grey, for the time being, is the only color of sofa I care about, the fabric had to be a tight wave so it wasn’t too inviting for the cat to scratch (although I have to admit, off camera we still cover most of it up with blankets). This EQ3 Cello 2 Piece sectional, if I may say so myself is perfect. Once we started shopping EQ3 was one of the very few places that represented our style while fitting the budget. *Full disclosure* the sofa and table were gifted, however, we went back for many other pieces in the process of the renovation, like our bed (coming soon), bedside lamps, ceiling lamps and few additional accessories for the house, that we paid for ourselves. After all these years EQ3 still remains our favourite furniture store, and is Canadian! It has the modern Scandinavian vibe and covers a range of different price points (Herman Miller anyone?). The design is definitely on trend and understands the needs of it’s customers, not to mention the staff is incredibly knowledgable and helpful throughout the entire process (hi Dom!).
TIP: While choosing our couch we had the option of customizing the layout (left or right facing, open or close ended chaise) and the fabric, hence the few week delivery wait time. When you start shopping for a big piece of furniture, make sure you know the dimensions of where it’s going. I can not stress enough how important this is. Furniture looks a lot smaller in a big warehouse space so it can be deceiving, trust the numbers. We ended up coming back a few times because we needed to make sure everything was going to fit… just don’t do it while you have a bath running… trust me!
COFFEE TABLE – The EQ3 coffee table was another exercise at customization. While a really great service, it makes it so hard for me to decide on the combination because all the options are amazing. The table comes in four different sizes, with four different table top options and two different leg finishes, the combinations are endless. We went for the white marble with the graphic black legs for contrast. We started off with layering two tables but with the space we have, the shorter, wider version worked well on it’s own. The smaller side table ties back to the centre of the room and allows for additional storage.
TIP: For those indecisive shoppers like me, when customizing, have inspiration images at hand, know what colours you will be using in your space and choose accordingly.
As you can see we are still figuring out how to fill the opposing wall as well as how to perfectly tie in our plants. Having more greenery in the house was a must for me. After visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum tapestry may not be entirely out of the question but stay tuned. As we await the arrival of one of our last big pieces of furniture we will still be adjusting and playing with this space. I am just excited we can finally start sharing as it all takes shape. xoxo