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Families in apartments: closet to mini-mudroom DIY

Families in apartments: closet to mini-mudroom DIY

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My friend Mel quietly does amazing things with her space. I’ve known her for 20 years, and her apartments manage to look cool and put together – both when we were 20, and after having a child, which, to my mind, are serious feats. When she posted a redo of her front closet into a tiny mudroom, I asked her if I could share it here.

Despite some being incredulous, lots of families make a go of living in apartments – whether it’s a co-op arrangement, part of a house, in a tower, or the many other arrangements out there. I laugh at the things that come up when I search ‘mudroom’ on Pinterest, because some of them are half the size of my whole apartment. I knew some of you out there would appreciate Mel’s small-space solution. Here’s what she told me:

‘Our coat closet was basically wasted space because it had a broken door that would come off the track every time you open or closed it. Also we are the type of people who are in and out a lot throughout the day and too lazy to get out a hanger and hang up our jacket every time we come in. On top of that, Sterling couldn’t even reach the hangers or rod to hang up his coat. So our shoes and jackets had been piling up in our pantry area (where there happened to be a couple of hooks) making a mess and driving us crazy.

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Here’s what we did to make our mudroom:

1. Removed the door and tracks

2. Removed the ancient shelf and rod set-up

3. Patched holes, cleaned all the walls

4. Fresh coat of paint.

5. Hung 2 IKEA Lack shelves in the upper half of the closet for storage.

6. Installed IKEA PS rail and knob system along the back of the closet and a small rail/knobs along the side that Sterling can reach.

7. Added a bucket for keys etc. on another side rail above Sterling’s. (There are some other accessories you can get for the system that were sold out, but we may add later)

8. Added IKEA Stuva bench and cushion

9. Added bins with lids to store our winter scarves, mitts etc and keep the moths out.

10. The closet does not have a light fixture or outlet so we added a battery-powered LED closet light that we found a Canadian Tire. It is motion-activated which is great because we were able to hang it up high without worrying about not being able to reach it.

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Gift Guide: House Proud

Gift Guide: House Proud

house proud gift guide 2014

 

Who wouldn’t love some gorgeous wooden lids for their mason jars, a beautiful modern twig hook,  or some cute sea otters to cheer them in the morning?

Clockwise from top left: Paint by numbers deer pillow cover by StudioLiscious, New York Porcelain Chemists Bottle by Revisions Design, Twig modern wall hook by StudioLiscious, Porcelain egg sprout planters by Revisions Design, Sea otter print by TripleStudio, Set of four wooden mason jar lids by Cattails Woodwork

PS – Still haven’t written your Christmas cards? Check out my favourite photo cards from Minted – all by independent designers.

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How to make this centrepiece for $15 from IKEA bits

How to make this centrepiece for $15 from IKEA bits

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Standing in the As-Is department of IKEA, I came up with the idea for this centrepiece. I am a sucker for fake flowers. Real ones are beautiful, obviously, but I try to stick to things grown close by and in the end of November in Canada, there isn’t much around. So when I spotted branches of less-than-perfect white ones for 59¢, I dug around the garish pink blossoms to come up with three nice stems. If your As-Is department comes up empty, the regular stems run about $1.29 – $2.99 each, I used three here.

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The vase is the bigger of the two ENSIDIG vase sizes ($2.99), and I filled the centre of it with two strands of the SÄRDAL LED light strings with the battery pack attached ($3.99/each). Cramming the artificial flower stems inside and pressed along the outside edge disguises the battery packs. Just pull some of the lights around so you’ve got some poking out the top and some illuminating flowers from behind.

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Win tickets to the Vancouver Modern Home Tour

Win tickets to the Vancouver Modern Home Tour

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I love walking around my neighbourhood in the early twilight, when people have turned their lights on but not yet closed their blinds. It’s the small glimpse into their homes that makes me happy – what do they have on their walls, how big is that front room – that kind of thing. I don’t quite have the gall to show up at open houses and gawk when I have no intention of buying, however house tours give me license to wander and stare all I like.

The heritage house tours are fascinating and I love the laneway house tours for ingenious ideas in (very) small spaces, but it’s hard to beat modern house tours for sheer drama.

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This year, the Vancouver Modern Home Tour has been curated by Western Living magazine editor-in-chief Anicka Quin, and there are some beauties on the list. I’ve already earmarked two I’ve seen from the street that I’ve always been curious about (like the house in the photo at the top of the post), so I’m quite excited to see how all those corners work from the inside. There are newly built structures as well as incredible projects that started as older houses, smaller spaces and sprawling mansions.

Garden.

This is a self-guided tour, so you will need transportation between the homes, a few of which are in West Vancouver. You have from 11am-5pm on Saturday 20 September to visit the homes. Tickets are $30 in advance, and $40 on the day, kids under 12 are free.

I’m a bit of a house tour nerd, so let me share what I’ve learned:

– Wear comfortable slip-on shoes of some sort, as you have to remove them at every house, and bring a bag to carry them in as you’ll be ferrying them around
– Leave the big backpack behind, a small cross-body bag is best – you don’t want to knock anything over in the tight spaces
– Don’t bring a big camera, these are peoples’ homes and photography is usually not allowed
– Plan your route ahead of time, including a lunch and/or coffee stop
– Agree with your touring partner if there are one or two homes you’re okay to miss and plan the route accordingly, often time gets tight at the end of the day, so it’s good to see the ones you’re really keen on first

The nice people at Modern Home Tours have have given me sets of two passes for my readers. Go forth and enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Review

All photos courtesy Modern Home Tours

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Burrito bowls

Burrito bowls

burrito bowl

I am secretly obsessed with those ‘what I ate’ blog posts and magazine pages. I know, I know, most of them are made up or at least massaged into appearing super healthy. But like most people, I struggle with inspiration for my daily meals.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to start posting recipes for the meals we eat at home all the time – the ones that get requested again and again. They’re not particularly original or very complicated, but I think we could all use a few more of those regular meal ideas.

Burrito bowls are, by their very nature, super flexible things. We eat these at lunchtime mostly, utilizing leftovers in the fridge, but the base stays essentially the same: brown rice and black beans. Often I will cook a batch of onions, corn and peppers to add to omelettes and burritos, and keep it in the fridge. Add hot sauce, nuts, whatever takes your fancy. Skip the salsa and sour cream and use a miso-soy dressing and it’s immediately more Asian, no longer really burrito related but also amazing.

Here’s an example bowl we had today. I haven’t given measurements because this is up to you.

Burrito bowl

  • Cooked brown rice
  • Black beans, rinsed
  • Corn kernels, frozen
  • Peppers, chopped
  • Onion, sliced
  • Cheese, shredded
  • Kale, either raw and chopped or leftover fried kale, chopped
  • Pico de gallo or salsa
  • Sour cream

1. Heat or cook the rice, add black beans if you’re just heating it up.

2. Fry the onion, corn kernels and peppers together, by the time the onions and peppers are softened the corn will be defrosted.

3. Layer rice, then beans in a bowl, top with shredded cheese, and then the onion mixture. All the heat will melt the cheese for you.

4. Finally, top with the kale, salsa and sour cream. Enjoy!

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