April 11, 2014

My Home

When you are renting a place – you really cannot make renovations.   First, the owner might not want it, second it cost money – why invest when you are not sure how long you will be there.

So  when I saw a space that:

  • had an appealing layout 
  • was surprisingly quiet inspite of the fact the unit was facing a busy road (attenuated by trees and a fence)
  • near my work
  • safe, secure
  • friendly landlords (who live upstairs)
  • reasonable monthly rent at CAD$650.00 which includes the total package of washer/dryer, Wi-Fi,  parking 
  • near the library, supermarket/groceries, restaurants,  gym (very important)
  • three bus routes
my journey to stamp my tastes and preferences, within limits, began.

Even though the apartment at the ground floor was only 750 square foot with tiny windows for each three areas: kitchen, living room, bedroom, and none for the bathroom, creating a dark man cave except when the sun is full blast outside (which is very rare in Vancouver BC), I took it.

I then set about interior designing based on my twin goals (comfortable and bright), and just like a hotel or a resort, great to lounge in day and night.  If you want to listen to my radio interview regarding the topic, e-mail me and I can send you the clip.


Photo A:  Living Room

Got white lounge chair (Ektorp line) from IKEA in Richmond BC together with a sofa (CAD$800 for both including a set of red covers).  It has to be white for such a dark place.  The covers are washable so no worries. 

The spiral red area rug is also from IKEA (US$140.00) south of Seattle WA.  It is synthetic but it gives pizzazz and warmth to a very dark living space.

Mirrors against the wall of the next door unit - to create an illusion of space.

The watercolor painting in a cheap frame is from Hotel Liquidators in Vancouver BC (CAD$5.00).  The painting actually hides a fuse box.

Photo B:  Living Room with a very dark corner even at daytime

I looked for a lamp with a brightly colored base - got this for US$27 tax free at JC Penney in Portland, Oregon


Photo C:  Living Room with Tiny Window - bedroom door (left)

Initially I bought a pair of small rectangular pillows at Home Sense in Vancouver.  But inspite of trying the two out for a couple of days - it just was not right and not comfy (synthetic case, unwashable too).   I also didn't like the visual noise of too many throw pillows.  I wanted one that I can really prop my head on comfortably (no frills and annoying borders) so I got this throw pillow case, all cotton washable for US$15.00 (on clearance - down from US$25.00) at Pottery Barn, Bellevue Mall, WA.  The good thing is I can insert a pillow and take it out when I need to wash the case.  Instead of buying a pillow in Pottery Barn for another US$25.00, I drove a couple of miles away to Wal-Mart and got one that fits for US$3.00.

The desk has that's svelte curve with one drawer.  It used to live in a hotel.  Got it at Hotel Liquidators in Vancouver BC for CAD$30.00. I like the austere elegance.

The chair was from a yard sale - CAD$2.00.

The red rug all wool under the chair was a sample given for free from a carpet/rug store along Main Street, Vancouver BC.


Photo D:  There are three lamps in the living room, two table and one floor.  Many interior designers always recommend three, not two - too little, of course not one, and not four (over the top).  The effect of having three is just right and I agree.  I decided to buy soft-light bulbs at 40 watts from Home Depot US$5.00.

One of the lamps I have is a 1960s Art Deco white shell with three legs.  I got it from the same yard sale as the desk chair CAD$2.00.


Photo E:  Living Room Floor with a larger view of the IKEA area rug.

The door at the right is a closet.  Notice I left the old blue checkered rug as a buffer between the Ikea area rug and the floor carpet to give added cushion.  Yes it is oddly peeking but I can live with it.


Photo F: Living Room Window

I just didn't want any kitz around.  A friend of mine in New Zealand gave me the framed necklace.  The rubber band ball I got as a souvenir from a trade show I attended at the Vancouver Convention Centre.


Photos G: Living Room with Ikea Sofa

I would recline in that sofa, read a book or just relax and feel grateful.

The floor lamp is again from JC Penney in Portland OR (tax free at US$37.00)

There are two charcoal paintings on top of the sofa from a garage sale (each for CAD$1.50).  The one on top of the floor lamp is my name in Hieroglyphics.  A machine during the Tutankhamen exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle churned out the print.  This will inspire me to buy a Pharaonic-era illustration in papyrus for my bedroom as you shall see later.


Photos H   Kitchen Sink

When I saw a window on top of my kitchen sink, I knew this was the place.  I love looking out while washing dishes - I don't know why.  But if I am staring at a wall dishwashing becomes a chore.  However there was this very bare lifeless panel between the window and the sink which extends all the way to the stove top to the left.  What to do?  Plastering a pretty splash guard was beyond my budget.  So when I spied this bejeweled gold-plated frog, I thought how apropos for a sink and it will breathe life and fun in my kitchen.  The frog was US$10.00 at Marshalls in Bellingham WA.

The sponge drip holder hanging from the faucet is from Ross in Tukwila, US$5.00.

The paper holder on the refrigerator is a has a magnetic bar.  I thought it was a neater way for reminders rather than having a corkboard or numerous magnetic holders.  US9.00 at Marshalls in Bellingham WA.

Initially I bought an earthenware soap dispenser thinking it would complement the speckled countertop.  But somehow it made that corner dull. And it was expensive CAD$20 at Home Sense in Vancouver.  Returned that one even before I found something else.  A glass see-through soap pump helped reflect the little available light.  US$5.00 at Target in Bellingham WA.

Spice Roulette on top of the fridge - a gift from Becca - a former boss.


Photo I Kitchen Sink

I love a very clean sink and air drying.  I do not have a dishwasher.  But I want my drying rack raised since I dread the thought of the lips of my glasses touching the sink, although rubbed clean.  You just never know.  The drying rack is actually a cookie cooling rack in three tiers which can be pushed together to one.  US$15.00 at Bed Bath and Beyond in Tuwkila  WA.  The wine glass of which I had 7 to begin with, down to four now, US1.00 each at Dollar Store near U of W in Seattle.


Photos J:  Kitchen Stove area

The wall at the top of the stove and below the air vent was another bare panel in my kitchen.  What to do?  An artwork will not be practical with oil spatters and smoke and fumes.  This dilemma really wracked my brain for months.  Then I saw this plant sill at Home Sense in Vancouver BC (CAD$12.50).  So I decided to hang the whole thing upside down.  Fortinately there was a bar below the sill which acted as a guard rail when inverted.  Voila!  I now have a nice sill for a salt and pepper shakers as well as a Christmas Belen (on loan forever from my neighbor).  Thank you Rose!


Photos K

I inherited a stove top whose cusps were rusted severely, soot black and cracking.  The worst was was the big one - the cusp had to be junked.  My landlady tried to buy a replacement but nothing would fit.  Since I really don't cook a lot, I really do not need four heating units much less a big one.  But it was an eyesore and I was pretty successful in ignoring it, 99%!  But that 1% kept gnawing.  Till it dawned on me to cover the hole with this tile that I salvaged months ago from samples to be thrown out by a flooring company.  It even made the whole thing prettier and I got a trivet as well.  I just make sure everytime I use the oven below, I move the tile or it might crack from the hot gas blowing up.


Photo L   Kitchen Utensils Rack

Space saver courtesy of my landlady.  I think it adds character to a big bare end wall.   

The two yellow funnels from Ikea Richmong ($Cad 3.00 for the pair)

Photo M  Bedroom Photos

This Egyptian artwork in real papyrus is a lesson in impulse buying.  I bought this at a store along Kingsway Avenue in Vancouver for CAD$50.00.  I later found out it was available at e-bay from CAD$ 7 - 15, including shipping.  Do your research first.  Wait and scope.  If necessary buy - but have it in writing that one can return item for refund within a certain time.  I did not bother to ask the return policy.

The white feather duvet was a surplus from the 2010 Winter Olympics athletes housing - CAD$10.00.

The headboard was an oak sample from a flooring company - free.

The lamp from a yard sale for CAD$2.00.

Although my landlord has several spare mirrors - their frames were plain and insipid.  So when I spotted this checkered-frame at a truck selling used stuff on a parking lot at Haggens Supermarket in Marysville WA I snatched it for US$1.00. 

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