My home is my universe. It has been for some time, even before the pandemic because I spend a good part of my life working from home, whether that’s side gigs, writing, or remote contracts.
When I first moved in it took good 6 months to set this place up. I still remember eating on the floor next to a small Ikea side table for a few months while waiting for the dining room furniture to get delivered. It felt nomadic in a kind of way. Over the last couple of years, I have been slowly adding pieces, rotating plants, and progressively growing my art wall.
With this “new normal” (I use brackets intentionally because “new” is a tiered word at this point) the universe is now in everyone’s home, especially going into the cold weather months and the second lockdown. This year in particular I have been obsessing over my home, trying to update areas, move things around, buy new trinkets, and create “new” spaces. It has become a compulsive obsession triggered by the inability to travel and get out to do stuff as much as I did “in the before time”.
This open-concept space has now become a multi-purpose environment more than ever before: the dining area is a restaurant-bar, the living room is the movie theatre, and the bathroom is a holistic spa. I have coffee breaks leaning against the kitchen while having water-cooler conversations on Instagram and occasionally work in the bar for a change. You get the idea 😊 – so let’s look inside…
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The living room, aka the movie theatre, is also the lounge, games room, and occasionally a very small concert venue (live streams, you know). The recipe for any cozy living room is a big couch, lots of pillows, plants, a soft rug, and a table to put all of the things on. Just the basics which can come together into a pretty neat environment and I love mine, the art wall definitely makes it more special.
My favorite part of the space is this art wall, I never get tired of looking at it because almost every piece reminds me of something or someone. Some pieces were purchased while traveling, some are gifts, some are posters from my days working at an art gallery. Putting this wall together admittedly was a pain in the arse. I had prints that didn’t match any frames and frames that didn’t match any prints. Eventually, I got tired of the search for all these odd sizes, custom framed key pieces, painted a few things for the empty frames, and called a friend (art curator, gallery owner, and art dealer at Keep 6) offering to trade beers and tacos for assistance in curating this mess. Here are some tips and rules for creating your own art wall:
- Decide on your wall aesthetic: abstract (king of like a cloud) or evenly balanced (rectangle or some other geometry)
- Choose your largest favourite piece to put make the centrepiece
- Build around it keeping smaller pieces lower on the wall
- Don’t hang same colour or motif side-by-side (ie. two birds or two green prints next to each other), unless of course, they are a pair
At first, I wanted to have an island but common sense kicked in and I got a dining table instead. This table now serves as a perfect spot for good dinner conversations, in addition to being a pretend bar – use enough plants and candles and it’ll feel just like a speakeasy. The dining room, in this case, is also the center of the apartment and a good place to set the plants that need medium lighting. Multi-purpose at its best.
Quick money saving tip
Honey Gold is a browser plugin that automatically searches for discounts on a wide variety of shopping sites (including food takeout sites). Sometimes if the discount is not available it offers points instead. All of those points accumulate to an actual dollar amount that you can cash out in gift cards (like Amazon). Here is a referral link to get you started with 500 points which equals $5. At first, I forgot I even had it but then got an email saying that my points have added up to $40 so now I actively use it to save and earn.
Considering that I work full time from home, and tend to be easily distracted, I always place my desk by a wall or a window so that I can’t see all the things I could be doing (like lying down on the couch or trimming flowers). I’m quite certain this area of the apartment was meant to be a dining room but in my case, it’s the home office and a napping area for Lucy (had to get a pillow because she was sleeping on my papers). This time around I also opted in for a metal bookcase because the wooden shelves were constantly bending under the weight of the periodicals.
It was important for me that the kitty litter is not visible and didn’t take up a bunch of space in my condo-sized bathroom so I got a kitty home that serves as a side table and storage for all sorts of kitty things. Yes, it is situated directly in my living room but most of the time I forget what it is which, in part, can be attributed to the extensive research I did a few years back on the best rated cat litter.
Side note: If you’re looking for companionship in this really weird time consider adopting a cat. My Lucy was adopted as a kitten from a shelter litter that a local veterinarian took in for delivery and adoption. Young cats are a lot of energy and work, mature cats are calmer and sometimes even more giving. If you are in the GTA here are some organizations you can meet your new feline BFF in, their profiles include age, gender, and character: Humane society, Toronto cat rescue, and more widely Adopt a pet.
My bedroom is at the back of the apartment so there is no daylight – it’s basically a dark dungeon cave. Over the last few months I’ve fully revamped this room: a new bed, new mattress, a new wardrobe, and more light – a daylight lamp is a must in this situation. The bed is from Ikea (my main thing was to have a simple platform bed with storage) and the mattress is from Endy – I surveyed general preferences on matters likes prior to purchasing and this one came up on top. I’ve now had the Endy mattress for a couple of months and honestly absolutely love it! The pillows are not quite up to my liking because I like my pillows soft and flat like pancakes but the mattress is a big win.
During the long search for the bedframe, I got a little distracted and decided to swap the Ikea dresser for a lower, 6-drawer mid-century cabinet which opened up the room in a very nice way creating more surface area for books and candles. The bedroom chair – you know, the one you throw your stuff on – is one of two which also serve as additional dining chairs. The brown blanket is a shameless promotion for mom’s Etsy shop, she knits them by hand.
Product list: NORDLI bed from Ikea | Cecille Groove dresser from Wayfair | Endy mattress: get a $55 or more discount with this referral code | Green upholstered velvet dining chairs (sold in 2) | Brown blanket can be found on Etsy
The light switch system in this unit is incredibly confusing and for a long time my kitchen light would only turn on if the hall lights were on. To correct this annoyance I switched the hall lights for smart bulbs and connected them to the Google Nest Mini.
And speaking of the talking home technology: I hesitated for some time and Lucy chewed up the cables but now I’ve given into the smart tech (makes for a great cooking assistant) and found what is called a ‘backpack’ plug for the Google mini so there are no more loose cords. My other piece of favorite tech is a Sonos speaker, also connected to the smart devices. I have the Sonos One and this little guy can get pretty loud so be careful with the bass, you might upset the neighbors (speaking from experience).
My relationship with plants is often challenging. They are moody, at times don’t like the environment and perhaps I just don’t have the green thumb. But I will keep trying, just not with the fiddle figs because that relationship cannot be resurrected. I talk to them, negotiate watering schedules, and move them around with the hopes they might like the space a few meters away better. Sometimes it’s exhausting, other times it’s a fairly therapeutic procrastination technique.
Favourite local home related services
Keeperr Cleaning: I get a monthly deep clean to treat myself. The referral link will give you a discount on the first cleaning. These folks do a 100-point checklist which they leave on your table when done.
Alfred: They are mostly known as a dry-cleaning company but they do all sorts of other stuff including show repair and laundry wash and fold. Many condos in the city have their lockers so it’s a fully touch-free experience: you leave your dirty things in the locker, they take them away and bring it back when it’s clean.
Boozer: Another local startup that delivers alcohol from a long list of local producers. The delivery timing varies but you can get same-day which is very convenient now, especially for bulk orders. The vendors included are multiple breweries, distilleries, and now even some wineries. Here is a code for $10 off (free delivery).
Good Food Box: There are a lot of different food box offers out there but these boxes support FoodShare Ontario who “support Toronto’s most nutritionally vulnerable through a diversity of programs and initiatives”. It is also very affordable, a large produce box is only $22.
Quick note on small things storage
At a certain point in your life (hint: over 30) you become a person who takes daily vitamins and supplements. I really didn’t like having pill bottles visible and it became tedious to keep reaching for them in the cabinet, where storage is limited as is, so I got these cute black ceramic containers to put all those vitamins in.
In the gear bag: Fujifilm X-T100 with an XF50mmF2 R WR lens.