Category Archives: house tours

apartment tour: the girl’s got style

25th February 2013

When I was in Vancouver the other week, I was apartment-hopping among my girlfriends’ places. Actually, you’ll remember one of them from this apartment tour I did a few years ago (last time I was in Vancouver). This time around, I got to peak into my pal Emily’s apartment and was totally wowed. Emily is a designer – she has a super awesome job of designing the stores for Lululemon (Canadian-based yoga clothing company). So if you’ve ever been into a cool Lulu store, she might have had something to do with it!

Anyway, let’s take a tour of her sweet 1-bedroom pad, shall we?

Upon entering the apartment, you quickly find yourself in Em’s living room. It’s a great example of a mostly neutral base (taupe walls, neutral furniture, etc) with pops of colour and pattern dotted around.

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The accent colours in here are mostly orange and mint – such a great combo, right? Fresh, fun, and cozy.

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Did you spot the mint lamp in the photo above? I was totally.obsessed. Wanted to somehow sneak it under my jacket and run. It’s got a fab extra-long goose neck and the shade of mint is perfection. Mint lamp + taupe/grey walls + yellow and grey pillow = sooooo my jam.

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The bookshelves have been colour-blocked (ie. arranged by spine colour), adding to the colour in the space. Oh and can you spot that miniature chair in the top right square? Miniatures of iconic chairs were dotted around the bookshelf – super fun and a little nod to Em’s design background.
DSC_0360The Eames chair is obviously a fave (pretty similar to my dining room chairs), and that orange desk was punchy and fun.

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Did you notice those bikes in the photo above? Well check out how they are hung right on the wall. Such a great idea if you don’t have much in the way of storage space. And they totally weren’t dominating or overwhelming in the room. I hardly even noticed they were there.
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The kitchen and dining room are right off the living room, making it feel like one large open space. The same colour and window treatments are carried through into this space, making it flow well and feel connected.

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Hanging your own light fixture, curtains, kitchen accessories (knife rack, tea towel holders, etc), and other little touches are things you can do to really personalize a rental.

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Another space-saver? Neatly fold your extra blankets and cushions for when friends and family come to stay, and pile them under a side table, like Em has done.

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All of the little touches in the apartment are what really did it for me. Thought had clearly been given to every corner of the space. Light switch covers had been swapped out for artistic ones, with little plate arrangements hanging ontop…
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… and sweet, fun artwork was hanging everywhere, including this awesome Pantone toothbrush shadowbox in the bathroom (funny story – I had bought the same set of Pantone toothbrushes at West Elm the day before seeing Em’s apartment… aren’t we two peas in a pod?). DSC_0376

All in all – a bright, comfortable, stylish pad to come home to. Thanks for showing us around, Em! (and for hosting one hella Bachelor watching partaay while I was there in Vancouver!).

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Have you guys seen any pads that you have loved lately? Got any great tips for how to personalize a rental space? Any space-saving ideas? See an idea in Em’s apartment that you totally want to steal? 

house tour: a renovated beauty

22nd August 2012

We’ve got a new house to crash this week. I love house crashing… it’s so fun to see other people’s design style and pick up tips and tricks. And extra fun? This beauty belongs to my brother, his wife, and their two darling kiddos. This house renovating thing must be genetic!

My brother and his wife bought this house in Kingston last year. It had seen better days, but had great bones and is located in a fabulous neighbourhood (which was why they had gone and had a look at it just for fun.. little did they know they would fall in love!!). Here are the before photos…

Dark and dated, right? There were lots of small pokey rooms.

With all the icky stuff demo’d, the work really got started. My brother and family/friends pretty much did everything themselves.

The house is about 75 years old and has had several renovations in its past, including the addition of a one car garage and a 300 sq ft addition on the back. The price was fair but the house needed a lot of work – everything was very dated, and the recent addition had been constructed to suit a person in a wheelchair (lifts into the garage, wheelchair accessible bathrooms, etc).

Their renovation plans included removing some walls and gutting and updating the kitchen and both bathrooms, but they ended up replacing all the wiring and plumbing too. They put new hardwood in the addition, tile in the kitchen, sanded and refinished the existing oak on the main floor and maple upstairs, stripped wallpaper, painted everything, added a bathroom downstairs, and finished the basement. Phew – sounds like a lot of work right?

And now for all of the pretty after’s. Isn’t the house a classic? I love the black shutters and doors with red brick.

Here’s my sweet little nephew ready to give me the tour.

Not even recognizable, right? The living room is light, airy and just easy to live in.

They still kept lots of the character from the house, like this corner cabinet in the dining room full of old china.

The aim was to keep the feel and look of the old house character, but also blending in new elements and an open concept feel. They wanted to make the house more liveable for a young family, like maximizing storage space and including a garage entryway.

Isn’t that kitchen fabulous? Those mexican tiles give the room so much punch, while they kept the rest of the fixtures classic and neutral. This open kitchen/great room is their favourite room in the house – it has great sight lines to outdoors and nice views into the well landscaped garden.

Their best splurges? The electrical/lighting (they put in 30 new pot lights), the in-floor heating in the mud room and upstairs bathroom, and the high-end kitchen countertop.

Their best save? They used a student construction group (“Renovation Plus” in Kingston), who came in and did most of the demolition and framing. They only had to put up the cost for the materials and a nominal donation to the school program. The house demo ended up being a great learning classroom for the student group, who worked under the direction of a construction teacher. Isn’t that a brilliant idea?

The upstairs bathroom is one of my fave spots. The black and white retro tile is to die for, and I love how it is juxtoposed with the more modern floating vanity (from IKEA) and fixtures.

The second full bathroom is the basement was also done really nicely. This is the one that my brother escapes to for his showers in the morning.

And my little niece’s blue bedroom is so sweet. My sister in law is a great yard sale’r, who always finds great deals for their pad.

There is really great artwork dotted around the house. Some original pieces (like the one below), some framed family photos, and then other prints or pieces that have been picked up along their travels.

As my brother said, it was a journey but they learned a great deal.

There were a couple of key lessons:

  • Always get 3 quotes.
  • Do as much as you can yourself, but call in the experts for the technical stuff and to finish things off. Contractors and subs want the whole job, but there can be a lot of saving in contracting yourself if you have the time and experience.
  • There are lots of resources online and building inspectors can be a great source for some expertise.

And that’s it! They did a looooottt of work, eh? Man, I’m tired just looking at it. I think my favourite thing is just how open the whole main floor is, and the kitchen (being right in the middle) is really the hub of the house. Thanks James and Krista for giving us a peak inside your pad!

Any favourite rooms or spots for you? Done any renovating yourself lately? Maybe even a full gut job like this one? 

house tour: getting artsy

5th March 2012

Let’s start this week off with a little house tour, shall we? I’m back with another brother-and-sister-in-law tour (remember this one a few weeks ago?). What can I say – I have a seriously stylish fam.

Their semi-detached pad is in one of Toronto’s hip neighbourhoods – full of cool little shops, parks and friendly folks. The whole house was gutted and re-done a few years ago and now has a nice open concept layout. The living room has a layered neutral look and comes across as earthy, un-cluttered, and warm.

I have serious barcelona chair envy. Ain’t she a beauty?

One really fun element dotted around this house are table lamps on old vintage chairs. Instead of using typical side tables, this is a quirky (and more affordable) idea.

The living room opens up into a dining room full of books, a pretty weathered farmhouse table, and lots of charm.

The kitchen, at the back of the house and opening onto the backyard, injects a shot of colour into the main floor. The pretty blue and tons of sunlight makes it feel like such a fresh space.

Notice the sweet orange kitchen accessories? Perfection.

Up on the second floor are the three main bedrooms – one master and two for the kiddos.

First up is sweet Stella’s room. Taupe walls and hits of pink make a feminine (but not over the top) space for this little girl.

The framed butterfly prints below are just sheets of wrapping paper found at a specialty paper store. Pretty and affordable – right up my alley.

Henry’s room is all about blue and orange. Oh, and did those lovely bird mobiles catch your eye? Alexandra (their Mum) whipped them up herself.

Maps are another big feature throughout the house. This one below is probably my favourite (feels like it was from a schoolhouse), but there are loads dotted around.

Now we’re headed down to the basement. Besides laundry and storage, there is a nice little guest space and bathroom.

Oh and the abstract paintings all over the house? Yep, just Alexandra again. I’m telling you – she is one artsy gal.

So there you have it. Another jolt of inspiration for your own digs. Did you have a favourite room or favourite piece in the house? Feeling inspired to go frame some wrapping paper, make a mobile, or do some painting? I know I am!  Thanks John and Alexandra for showing us around. Oh, and if you’re in the Toronto area, check out Henry’s Highchair for some kid-friendly restaurant recommendations. Yep, the kid blogs. Amazing. 

house tour: it’s all in the details

9th February 2012

Alright fasten your seatbelts folks, we’re going on a little house tour.

Enter the lovely apartment of my brother-in-law, Doug and girlfriend, Ginny. Their apartment is located in a trendy Toronto neighbourhood and is packed with charm. For me, the beauty of their place is in all the little details.

First thing upon entering are these vintage keys hanging up on the wall. So sweet.

For their dining room, Ginny found an old booth seat from a bar that was closing down and snagged it for pennies. Then she hunted down some durable fabric and had it professionally reupholstered. It is definitely one of those pieces that makes the room – it’s super funky and provides tons of seating space.

Ginny has a thing for jewellery (she’s a stella + dot stylist!), so there are gorgeous bobbles all around their pad. So pretty.

Their kitchen is a totally cool space. Yes it’s small and none of the fixtures are great, but by adding the chalkboard paint to the wall (aren’t those drawn-on frames cute?), the red mirrors, and the hanging pot rack, the space becomes so fun and inviting.

The bathroom is another space full of sweet little touches. They added the chandelier and the pops of orange to what was a boring blue bathroom. Those two canvasses are simply covered in fabric that Ginny picked up – making inexpensive but effective artwork.

The living room is mostly white and gray and feels super light, bright and airy. The two big bookshelves flanking the couch is a great way to add some storage without overpowering the room. And those cubes that are acting as a coffee table can double as extra seating when they’ve got a bunch of  people over. Smart ideas for small spaces!

They have also added a small desk on one side of the room, which allows the space to do double duty as an office.

I was kinda digging this old retro vanity and chair of Ginny’s — again, full of cute bobbles and hats and all sorts of goodies. Notice how she uses little china tea cups to hold her jewellery? Cute, right?

Thanks for the tour, you two!!

What do you guys think? Haven’t they done a nice job of injecting their personality into the space with fun details? Their projects are definitely affordable ones, and are mostly things you can easily do in a rental space. Have you guys been painting any chalkboard walls or DIYing some art lately? 

Pssst – don’t forget to enter the stella + dot giveaway for some seriously gorgeous earrings. It closes tomorrow!

house crashing: a cute n’ cozy pad

12th January 2012

The first major renovation we did to our house (and the biggest one we’ve done to date) was our basement. We took it down to the studs, put in a lot of sweat equity, and transformed it from ultra dingy to a cozy one-bedroom apartment. The ability to turn our house into a duplex was one of the main reasons why we bought our pad in the first place.

Just to refresh your memory, here are the before and afters of our basement when we were done with our reno…

To see how we did all that, you can check out the “big reveal” post here.

Now, we have the apartment rented out to a super sweet gal who has totally made the space her own. She has filled the apartment with cozy furniture, big art pieces, books, and natural textures, which has all come together so nicely. Let’s go on a little tour, shall we?

Here is the living room. She has done a really nice job making the space multi-purpose, with a great living room area, office/study area, and some smart storage solutions.

Isn’t this piece of artwork above the couch stunning? I love the vibrant red colours with the earthy browns in the rest of the space.

And here is the super fun kitchen. I loved this green colour when we painted it during the reno, and it has come to life even more with all of the artwork and accessories.

Now onto the bedroom, which is simple and serene.

So there is it – a bit of house crashing in our own house. Don’t you like what she’s done with the place? When you walk in, you can feel the warm and cozy vibe right away. You totally want to flip on the fireplace and hunker down with a cup of tea. Don’t you love that about a place?

Thanks Rebecca for letting us tour your place!

some amy butler love

13th May 2011

I’m not sure if I’ve confessed my absolute love of all things Amy Butler on the blog yet. In case I haven’t: I. Love. Amy. Butler. She does some of the most fun, colourful and sweet fabrics around and also has wallpaper, stationary, bedding, art pieces, a range of books and loads of other stuff. Anyway, apartment therapy posted a tour of her house the other day and it did not disappoint. Light, airy, colourful and fun. Exactly how I envisioned the designer living.

I love so many elements in this room. The sloped painted ceilings with big skylights, the wallpapered wall, the colourful pillows that pop on the white couch, the long console table behind the sofa, that rustic hutch in the back and the gorgeous wide plank wooden floors. Oh and the wall of windows/doors letting in all that light? Amazing. Couldn’t you see yourself hanging out all the time in here? 

via apartment therapy

via apartment therapy

And how gorgeous is this farmhouse table and simple flower centerpiece?

via apartment therapy

via apartment therapy

Amy at work…

via apartment therapy

via apartment therapy

If you’re not familiar with Amy’s line, here’s a sneak peak at some of the fabrics from her various collections:

amy butler's orange dahlia from the midwest 2 modern collection

amy butler's orange dahlia from the midwest 2 modern collection

amy butler's heart from the love collection

amy butler's heart from the love collection

We’re thinking of wallpapering a wall in our office when we get back (I have lots of plans for that room!) and I think I may just have to go with something of Amy’s…. 

amy butler wallpaper- ocean collection

amy butler wallpaper- ocean collection

amy butler wallpaper- sunset collection

amy butler wallpaper- sunset collection

Fun, right? And if you’re feeling crafty, you can download a bunch of free patterns from Amy’s website for things like quilts, bags, duvet covers, and tons more. Check them out here.

See more of Amy’s stuff at her website: www.amybutlerdesign.com

 

house tour: a picture-perfect pad

8th March 2011

We’ve got an eclectic, super hip pad to crash today. Alana (one of my oldest and best friends!) has kindly let us peek into her one-bedroom Vancouver apartment.

We’ll start off in the heart of the apartment — the living room. It’s a really well put together room, made up mostly of neutral-coloured furniture and complemented by bright pops of colour from accessories and a picture gallery.

A lot of Alana’s things are from IKEA, HomeSense and Pier 1, but she mixes in her souvenirs from various travels to create a space that is totally her and far from cookie-cutter.

The photo gallery isn’t just a great way to bring colour and vibrancy into the space, but it is also affordable, personal, and a great conversation starter. All pictures are taken by Alana (isn’t she an incredible photographer?).

To do a photo wall yourself, choose your favourite pics, have them printed as 8×10’s, get some basic glass/clip frames (from the dollar store or similar) and then mount them up on the wall leaving little space between each frame. Best if you’ve got a big section of wall to work with.

Alana’s top 3 fave things in her pad:

  • the photo wall
  • her couch & bed – both good for lounging!
  • the buddha head – the most recent addition to the apartment, brought back from Nepal by her sister, Lauren

The living room opens up into the kitchen – not Alana’s favourite room of the apartment, but it’s functional and she’s added in a few things to make it a bit more cheerful.

The entry-way/hallway is great as there was enough room to put a little bench and some hooks for hanging up jackets, purses and scarves.

Aren’t these hooks from Anthropologie totally gorgeous? They were snagged at a sweet price from the discount bin. Totally jealous over here!

And lastly we’ve got the bedroom. Alana has cleverly used a curtain panel to cover up the closet area and has kept the whole room minimal and serene – perfect for a quiet read or good night’s sleep.

Alana’s design tips:

  • Travel the world and bring back as much as you can
  • Have plants in your space – they always make a room look and feel better
  • Make it personal (photos, favourite books, souvenirs, etc.)

A big thank you to my girl for letting us check out her place.

house tour: stately english countryside

20th February 2011

We’re back with another fabulous house tour. This time we’re getting a sneak peak inside an elegant Georgian house from the 1700s, situated in a charming little village of south-west England. The grand 4-bedroom house is amazingly only 1/3 of the original home, which only makes me wonder how much space people actually thought they needed when the house was first built.

Come on… let’s go in!

I love the black and white checkered floor in the kitchen. It’s a lovely room – functional, lived-in and warm.

This sunroom/conservatory is another one of my favourite rooms. It was added on only a few years ago, and it’s made all the difference to the house. Sun streams in, it’s a great place for plants, and it’s lovely to sit out in even in the middle of winter.

Let’s go upstairs and check out a couple of rooms…

Beautiful artwork hangs in just about every inch of wall space throughout the house. It provides so much interest in each room and really makes the whole place feel warm.

Thick draperies feature in every room… even the bathroom! They are definitely multi-purpose: decorative, privacy and keeping the house warm (keep in mind how cold old English houses can be!).

Heading back downstairs, we find the main sitting/living room of the house. In case you haven’t already noticed, hundreds and hundreds of books can be found throughout the house. Lovely.

And lastly, the back garden. Since these pictures were taken in the winter they don’t really show off the garden in it’s green glory… but you can use your imagination!

And there you have it. Hope you enjoyed this peak into a historic English home.

house tour: hip apartment

27th January 2011

So we’re back with another pad to crash in our house tours series. This hip apartment belongs to an old colleague and good friend of mine, Courtney, and her partner Richard. They snagged this great two-bedroom apartment in downtown Ottawa, and quickly put their painting and DIY skills to the test. They’ve turned it into a seriously sweet pad, so let’s have a look!

You can see already from the hallway the place is full of character. Check out the gorgeous hardwood floors and chunky mouldings…

First up is the second bedroom, which is used as an office. Since they both have computers and do a fair bit of working at home, they’ve used a shelving unit to separate the desks so that there are “his and her” sides. Plus it adds a bunch of storage space for their books. Clever, clever!

Oh, and did you notice that Courtney has colour-blocked her bookshelves? Trendy girl.

As you might’ve guessed, she’s got a bit of a thing for home decor like yours truly. Check out her inspiration/mood board:

And to cap off the office, there is this darling reading nook. How awesome is that chair? Oh, did I mention Courtney and Richard are sweet bargain-hunters? Most of their apartment is full of re-purposed yard sale finds (and the occasional found-in-the-trash item..!). There’s a girl after my own heart.

I didn’t get any great shots of the bathroom, but it’s got this great retro penny tile.

And now onto the bedroom, where we’ve got some colourful artwork and cute green nightstand & lamp (the lamp was Courtney’s “garage sale find” of the summer last year). Don’t the gray and lime green go nicely together?

Moving on to the dining room. A lovely fireplace and mantle, a farmhouse/harvest style table, a pendant lamp and bright walls all make this room click.

Not surprisingly, the dining room chairs were a super steal that C&R had re-upholstered. They also painted the legs and bottom of the dining room table gray, which looks lovely and lets the wood grain on the top really stand out.

Off we go to the kitchen… oh hey there, Court!

…and then to the living room. The colour on the walls is a vibrant turquoise (not as ‘blue’ as it comes out in photos). Let me tell you, it’s fab. The colour really brings the room to life. And as you can see, they’ve mixed in some of that gray and green that is dotted throughout the rest of the apartment, bringing it all together.

Well folks, that wraps up this house tour. Thanks for having us in, Courtney and Rich!

Didn’t C&R do a great job on creating a fun and coordinated apartment on a next-to-nothing budget? Totally love it.

the new digs, dahling

29th November 2010

Almost exactly 4 weeks ago we moved into our new London digs. The process of actually finding and renting a flat in London was a bit of a nightmare — days and days of going from one end of London to another to view apartments that once I got there, had been rented out a few hours earlier (the rental market is incredibly busy and competitive at the moment). But after a few weeks, I stumbled onto the perfect pad for our year abroad. After viewing some pretty dumpy places, an agent took me to this one and I was shocked– it was clean, spacious (for London), and in a great area. Unfortunately the price reflected these things and was a bit out of our range. But luck was on my side, as the agent seemed to pity me and my not-so-successful flat hunt, and negotiated the price with the owner down to a reasonable rate (well, reasonable for London, let’s say!). We took possession the same day D arrived — he actually got to the new flat before me since he came in on an early plane that morning.

Here is our building. I adore it. The streets in our west London neighbourhood are lined with row houses that ooze character.

The hallway with front door and laundry closet.

Here’s is the kitchen/living room. It is an open concept space, which makes it feel nice and roomy. Sun streams in from the three windows at the end of the room (covered by blinds in the pic), which makes the place feel nice and light, even though it’s below ground.

It’s nothing short of school bus yellow, and although it’s not a colour I would ever choose to paint a room, I kind of love our bedroom. It can be the perfect colour to come snuggle in bed with a cup of tea on a dreary and gray London day.

The bathroom. Nothing special, but it has a shower & a one-faucet sink, which are two luxuries on this side of the pond. More than a few of the apartments I looked at when hunting didn’t have a shower, or if they did have a shower attachment, the tubs were under a sloped ceiling so you couldn’t stand up straight. And just about everywhere in England has two-faucet sinks – where either you get really hot or really cold water. Although I can appreciate these fun, quirky English eccentricities, our shower and one-faucet sink are heaven.

We haven’t had a chance to use it much yet as the weather has quickly become chilly, but it is lovely to have this little patch of outdoor space. The other great thing is that the painters have been around in the last few weeks cleaning and putting a fresh coat of paint on the whole space (it was looking fairly grimy, as you can tell in the second photo). It will definitely be a treat come spring-time!

So that’s the new place! We’ve gone to the discount stores for kitchenware and have been trolling around for good deals on furniture and things to put up on the walls (we’re trying to spend next to nothing since we know we’ll be saying goodbye to all of this stuff at the end of the year). Stay tuned to see how it’s progressing from this bare-but-bright space into our new cozy home.