Wallpaper- take 1 and 2

I have always loved the look of wallpaper, and how it can give a space so much style and personality. Now, I’m not talking about your grandma’s flowery faded pastel kind of wallpaper. My taste in patterns is a lot more modern, leaning towards more geometric shapes and neutral colors.

When we bought our place in the summer we had some renovations to do. Nothing major, just changing the floors from carpet to laminate, and some painting. One of the design elements I wanted to include in our place is some wallpaper. Thus began the adventure…

Take 1: Textured paintable wallpaper
textured wallpaper 1

The wall above our fireplace had some icky “popcorn” texture, and also a giant mirror glued to the wall that I wanted gone. Once we removed the mirror (it took lots of duct tape and 2 hairdryers… don’t ask) we realized that there is a recessed part of the wall behind it. That area was looking pretty gnarly- lots of leftover mirror glue and some tearing in the drywall. We decided to cover it up rather than patch it, so we got a small piece of drywall from the hardware store. We measured and cut it to fit the recessed area, the drilled it into the studs using drywall screws. We patched up the “seams” with some filler. The next dilemma we faced was- how do we make the wall texture even? The one patch of new smooth drywall was surrounded by areas with the “popcorn” texture. My solution was: Textured wallpaper!

Since no stores nearby us had textured wallpaper, we ordered it online. The pattern we picked is called “Shatter” and you can see it here and here. We bought some regular wallpaper glue from the hardware store, and I got to work! Now, I have never done wallpaper before, so through some trial and error I figured it out. Here are some tips:

1. Take your time to line up the pattern and generally pre-cut your strips, one at a time.

2. I found it much easier to put the glue on the wall, rather than on the paper. Walking around with a giant soggy piece of paper that keeps sticking to itself felt very counter productive.

3. What I ended up doing is putting the glue on the wall in sections, and squeezing out the bubbles / adjust alignment for each section. Much easier than doing the whole strip in one go!

4. To trim the wallpaper once it is covered in glue, resist the urge to use a knife! using scissors might not give the most even and straight cut, but using a knife often rips through the wet paper leaving a ragged edge 😦

textured wallpaper 5
The wallpaper we picked did a great job camouflaging the difference in textures that was going on underneath, and we also painted over it in the same paint color as the rest of our walls. We ended up mounting our TV on that wall, which works perfectly. This textured wall gives a great subtle interest to our living room focal wall.

Take 2: chevron print wallpaper
chevron wallpaper 1
I love chevron print, but could not imagine myself painting a pattern on the wall myself. Even with lots of painters tape and painstaking measurements, I could not see myself being happy with the results, especially with such a clean geometric pattern. So wallpaper it is! This one was for our dining room focal wall, but it is also a “hallway” wall, since you have to pass through our dining room to get to our living room. Whenever we have people over, whether it is for a meal, or tea, or watching a movie, everyone passes by it!

I do not remember the exact name of the pattern we chose, but we ordered it through our local Benjamin Moore store. They were great about letting us borrow book after book of wallpaper patterns until we found just the right one! This white and grey pattern works great with the wall paint we picked, and the subtle lines of shiny texture add interest.
chevron wallpaper 2
Putting this wallpaper up ended up being a 3 person job! This wallpaper was a lot thinner and so much more delicate than the previous textured one I experienced. It was also much more important to make sure the pattern lines up just right at the seams, since it would be very obvious if it was even just a little bit off.
chevron wallpaper 3
Overall I am very happy with how it turned out. You can see the rest of my dining room in my previous post here (even though I ended up replacing the photo on the wall- update will be coming eventually!). I will probably not be tackling wallpaper again in the near future though, and if the budget permits hire a professional to apply it next time.

Have you tried putting up wallpaper yourself? How did it work for you? I would love to hear your wallpaper success stories (or disasters!) 🙂

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Quick and cheap Halloween decor

Although the rest of our apartment remains relatively neutral throughout the seasons, its always fun to change things up, especially for holidays! I am not much of a fan of the really gory or creepy Halloween stuff, so instead I went for a more toned down look for our door decor:

ghost3ghost4

The spider garland and ‘boo’ ghost were $1.25 each from dollarama.

The rest of the shapes are paper cut outs- just regular printer paper- so free!

The whole thing was $2.50 !!!

How are you getting your space Halloween-ready? 🙂

 

New Dining Room!

With our move to the new place, there were plenty of opportunities to re-work and re-arrange the way each room looks and feels. To add to that, the apartment we bought came fully furnished- so we had 2 of everything! One of the rooms we finished first was the dining room, as we love to entertain and couldn’t wait to host our friends and families. After some discussion, we decided to give away our old wooden dining table (last seen here), in favor of this oval glass table and set of 4 upholstered chairs that came with the apartment. I was originally not a fan, as I don’t like dark wood color, and thought the “wine rack” base looked a little funny. Add to that the fact that I’m terribly clumsy, which is not a good mix with glass anything! But, the larger size meant we could host more friends comfortably, so function won over preference 😛 With the dining set also came a little glass bar/ side board, and I’m still thinking how to make it more functional with a tray on top- suggestions welcome!

dining5    dining3

We kept our “Red City” canvas, even though it doesn’t 100% go with the rest of the room, but until we decide on something else, its a nice focal point!

We also recently painted the walls a cool gray, to help make the space feel more modern. It looks a bit blueish under certain light, so I might have to play around with the light bulbs in the hanging fixture!

dining6

One of the major project we undertook for this room was having a focal wall covered in wallpaper! Selecting the wallpaper was the easy part, we both loved the chevron print and the subtle shiny stripe. I have never applied wallpaper before, so it was a learning process, but after watching a bunch of YouTube how-to videos, I felt confident enough to tackle it! I think it came out great!

dining1     dining2

So glad this room is done! Still a few decorative pieces I would like to add over time, but I generally go for a more clean and modern look, so I much prefer it uncluttered!

diningroom Collage

Let me know what you think in the comments! ❤

Painting Laminate- My First Experience

Do you have an old, tired looking piece of furniture at home that you would love to make useful and pretty? Do you need to add an extra piece to your home, but don’t have the budget to splurge on the bright and modern piece of furniture you dream about? Well, this might be a good solution for you!

We needed a small storage unit for our entry way, for things like keys, purses, scarves, etc. We wanted a modern piece, that will stand out from the gray walls and white tile (while I am a fan of monochromatic looks, I prefer more contrast in my own space). Our options were- a) get an expensive piece that we are in love with, but break the bank, or, b) get a cheaper piece and fancy it up ourselves.

We went with option B. After week of going through every thrift store in our area, and not finding a piece to our liking, we folded and made a trip to IKEA. After much deliberation, we picked the Brusali TV bench, as it was narrow enough to fit the space, and cheap enough to fit our budget. I assembled it without the backing piece, to save on paint.

brusali-tv-bench-brown__0354125_PE543686_S4

Our next challenge was- how to paint over the ugly dark laminate finish? Spray painting was out of the question, as we don’t have a balcony or any outdoor space, so it had to be something relatively clean and low-fumes. Painting with regular latex paint was an option, but has to be preceded by long steps of prepping the piece, and sounded a bit daunting. After hours of googling and youtubing, I landed on using chalk paint, as it saves some of the sand-prime-sand-paint process. According to what I was reading, chalk paint is self-priming, and can stick to pretty much anything, even completely smooth and non-porous surfaces like glass- sounds promising! I read a few personal accounts of people who successfully tried it, and figured it would be worth the shot. I picked up a container of Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint in Treasure.

treasure-chalky-finish

And let the painting adventure begin! I did not sand or prime the piece prior to painting, and just started to slather it on in long strokes using a synthetic paint brush. Here is a before shot:

console1

Some of what I was reading online recommended sanding between layers of paint, to even out the surface texture and minimize brush strokes. I was too lazy for that, and didn’t really mind the look of brush strokes. If I wanted it to look perfect I would have spray painted it! The chalk paint that I was using had pretty good coverage, but I still needed 3 coats to get an even finish. The 8 oz container I got was just enough for that! Chalk paint dries very quickly, and by the time I was finished the first coat, the spot where I started was already dry and ready for a second coat, which made the process go by very quickly. Here is what it looked like after the second coat of paint:

console2

Since Chalk paint is porous, it needs to be finished, or sealed, in some way. Most sources recommend applying the corresponding wax, but my local store was out of stock. I also wanted the finished piece to have a shiny glossy finish that is very durable, so I ended up choosing a polyurethane varnish in clear gloss by minwax.

minwax poly

I did two coats of that with the same synthetic paint brush, straight from the can. Some sources recommended diluting it with water to make it thinner so that brush strokes are less visible, and to give it more of a self-leveling quality. They also recommend sanding between coats, and doing at least 3 coats. As you can probably tell by now I wasn’t following any of these recommendations anyways, and I think the end result looked perfectly fine. The poly dries very quickly too, but I gave it overnight to cure before touching or putting things on it.

console3

I am really happy with the color, and how it looks in the space! I also love the glossy shine that I got with the poly coat, and actually don’t mind the brush stroke look at all, I think it almost makes it look like a real piece of furniture made of real wood, rather than MDF covered in a thin film of laminate pretending to be wood.

console4     console5

This process would be perfect to do over a weekend, and since it is fairly low fumes, was fine to do indoors. I can see this working perfectly for an old piece of furniture that just needs to be woken up a bit and freshened up, for a totally different look. Its amazing the difference paint makes! Do you have a piece that needs a fresh look? Or a thrift store find with great bones that needs to be modernized? I hope you give this process a try, and let me know how it goes! ❤

 

 

When your decor budget = $0

Starting from scratch. That’s a daunting thought, right? But what if that was the case: empty space, zero budget, go. How would you make it comfortable, stylish, YOU?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Up-cycle and reuse: when your pockets are empty, work with what you’ve got! Anything you can get your hands on that can be re-purposed using existing materials will work. A few examples of this are my toilet paper roll wall decor, beer bottle up-cycle, and bunting.

Hand me downs: there is NO shame in accepting previously loved pieces from friends or relatives. They may not be ideal, but they can definitely get you started! Stuck with an ugly hand me down sofa? Here are some ideas.

Learn to love simplicity: I know it can be tempting to want to fill all those shelves, hang something on every wall, and have cushions in every color and pattern. These are the things that make your space YOURS. However, restrain yourself from over-stuffing your space, as it can quickly become cluttered, fussy looking, and dust collecting! I don’t mean go totally zen and minimalist, but leaving your space relatively empty has a calming effect, makes your space feel larger and cleaner, and is great on a budget! Don’t believe me? Check out these spaces:

dorm1     bedroom

living room     dorm2


What would you do if you had to start from scratch with a $0 budget? Leave your tips in the comments! 🙂

Dining Room Decor

dining room

So previously I have shared with you some mini-transformations of different spaces in our apartment (See my vanity area here, and my SO’s office here). We have been living in our current place about 6 months, so most spots are already the way we like them, so I figure I should share that with you also!

First up, our dining room!

Now, our apartment is fairly small, so it’s not really a dining ROOM per-say, more of a dining area, that is a corner between the kitchen and the living room.

Table: We got it ‘as-is’ (previously returned) at IKEA. This table is much smaller then the previous one we had, but I really like the simple and sleek look and the color.

Chairs: Got them for about $20 each at Superstore. Yes, we bought our dining room chairs at a grocery store. Don’t judge. The curved shape makes them comfy and they are light enough that we can move them around easily for company.

Art: Got it at Home Sense for about $25. I originally was not a fan of the strong colors, but my SO convinced me otherwise, and since then we always get compliments on it!

Table decor: My DIY bottle vase made for FREE. See the DIY here.

I will continue to share other parts of our space in future posts, so check back soon! ❤

Home Office Transformation

A home office may not be a requirement for everyone, but for those of us who prefer a designated space for studying, catching up on paperwork, or even taking work home, it is essential.

When putting together a home office, think about your specific needs. What is the space going to be used for? What are your must-haves for the space? How much time will you be spending in that space?

Here are a few more things to consider:

Lighting– if it is possible to have your work space near a window for natural light it is preferred. However, for some it is a distraction, or creates too much glare. Think about the optimal lighting you would need for the type of tasks done in the space. Is the general light in the room causing you to cast a shadow on the work-space? Consider adding a desk lamp for more focused task light.

Ergonomics– this may not be at the top of your priorities, but if you are planning to spend a few hours a day in your home office space, it would be nice not to be sore afterwards. Make sure when seated your knees are at a 90 degree angle, and that your shoulders and elbows are not strained to reach for things like the keyboard or mouse.

Storage– try and have your essentials within an arm’s reach. It is fine to store other items separately, but for increased productivity keep daily use items quickly accessible and frequently replenished as needed.

The home office I am featuring next is mainly used for studying and doing work tasks on the computer. It needed to be functional and sleek at the same time, as well as keeping it within budget!

office b+a

The cork board / white board combo, pen cup, and stacking paper shelf were all purchased at the thrift store, for under $10 altogether. I decided to give the board a quick coat of paint (which I already had from a previous project) to inject some color into the space, as it would be rather monochrome otherwise.

board b+a

Let me know what you think, and what your home office must-haves are in the comments!