In August of 2013 I left my job at the Marriott in Niagara Falls as a housekeeping room attendant to attend a Master’s program at Ryerson University in Toronto. I only found out in June that I was accepted, working full time and trying to find an apartment to lease for a year beginning in September was pretty stressful. On my days off I would travel to Toronto for the day with my partner, hopefully having lined up some viewings. It was particularly stressful because when I’d see an availability by the time my day off would come around the apartment would have been scooped up by then. Even though I was dead set against living in a basement I still viewed a loooot of crappy, overpriced basements. My friend Martha who lives in Toronto was a giant help. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have known what neighbourhoods to look at and which parts were safer/cleaner than others.
Anyways, under the gun I found a place. I went to Toronto with my mom in the evening after work. I was only going to see this one apartment. It was in the neighbouring building where I saw this amazing one bedroom apartment, the rent was cheap, utilities were included and it was big enough for two people to live. Way more space than I actually needed. Obviously I lost out on this apartment. I called the building manager to see if there were any others available in that area that she managed. She was extremely nice and took pity on my circumstances and promised she’d let me know when/if one became available. I’m not an eternal optimist or anything so practically I kept looking, while secretly crossing my fingers that the woman would call me back. She did! There are kind, honest people out there! I was so relieved. Until of course I found out the apartment would be available October 1st. This is the apartment I viewed with my mom and ended up getting. Yay!
It was pretty tense. When we went to view it, four other people had scheduled viewings after me. If I wanted it I was going to have to decide right then and there and spring for the cash. Luckily my bank was just a few doors down. Upon seeing the place, my first impression was this place is a nightmare. A hoarder was living there. I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. It was definitely the residence of a hoarder. I know because I had been living with a hoarder for 25 years of my life. My father is a hoarder. That is another post. If you’re intrigued, please subscribe to my blog to receive notifications when I have published a new post 😉 She had a bird for a pet and while my mom and I were waiting to see the apartment, saw the woman leave the building with the bird. It was all a bit strange. You could not walk in this place. There were things stored all along the walls piled higher than myself (5’2″). Clothes in the kitchen, the hall and in the bathroom, suitcases full and stacked everywhere. Closets protruding; stuffed so full the doors couldn’t close. I couldn’t see the apartment. And the living and bedroom area had been dedicated to the bird.
I was determined. I felt it was my last possible chance at finding an apartment. I dusted the dirt from my shoulders and tried to find the positive. Wood floors. Giant window. Fair sized kitchen minus the garbage. The bathroom met my “if I can sit on the toilet, brush my teeth and spit in the sink” rule it’s a no go. I couldn’t do that.It was a four floor walk up which I am all for getting in some physical exertion where I can.It was a nice older building. I took a chance and signed my name on the lease. It wasn’t exactly over there. I did have to find somewhere to stay for the month of September. I ended up subletting a room on College Street in an apartment with these two great actors Shannon and Peter. They were really friendly, made me feel comfortable and helped me settle in to the city in such a great location. I hope they’re still doing well. Thanks to the both of them.
It was a proud moment for me. My first apartment. My very own apartment. I could decorate it the way I want. And I would live there independently taking care of the rent myself, taking transit, cooking meals, dancing and all that good stuff. The neighbourhood was amazing. I loved it. It was St. Clair West and Oakwood area. The Sea Witch has the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted and it was just up the street. And nothing better than a pizza from Vannis on a Friday night. Mmmm.
So in honor of my first apartment I wrote this post. It shows some pictures of it in progress, but there are more of it’s final result. I am super happy with it and I was sad to leave it. It was while living there I realized how important it was for me to make this place my own. I also realized how much I love interior design and home decor. It’s so gratifying to have a plan and see it come to fruition before your eyes, accomplishing it with your own hands. Now, with our new home, I am understanding this on a whole other level. I hope who ever is living there now is enjoying it as much as I did. If that person is reading this. Hey! Please send me a message or leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.
This is the entryway. The door opens into the kitchen/dining area. I didn’t do much, but I hung some hooks for jackets and bags and bought a cheap jute door mat from Ikea for shoes. I got the hooks from Home Depot. The wood floors were not in great shape but for an apartment of this age they look pretty amazing. It was one of the reasons that made the apartment so appealing to me. In the winter too, I obviously didn’t want to have to be cleaning the floors non stop so a mat outside and inside was necessary. I hung a wreath on the back of the door around Christmas time as well. Gotta keep things festive.
Boy that outlet is glaring. Let’s just ignore that shall we? Look how handy that shelving is on the right, it’s on both sides before entering the kitchen. I would have liked to use these shelves for books or something, but it just wasn’t practical for using it for anything other than scarves and such and pantry things. The table I got from an antique store, it has two leafs that fold down making it perfect for the small space and if I ever have company. I never had that much company because I’m kind of a hermit, but it worked well if my parents were around and Derek. I also had some extra folding chairs. The chairs in the photo are again from my great aunt.
Derek brought me sunflowers from his garden at them time. Dawww. They died as flowers do. I took forever throwing them out, don’t ask me why, I have no answer. That yellow dust is pollen. Oh and I never had candles before this apartment because my dad was always afraid they would burn the house down. I don’t really like strong sickly smells, so I got this one from Bath and Body Works called Farm Stand Apple. It legit smells like an apple stand. The salt and pepper shakers were actually favours from a cousin’s wedding. What a good idea.
Here is the kitchen. This kitchen was great for one. So much space and again so much light. The shelf under the window I added and I didn’t change the paint. Initially I had thought of painting it the same “Subtle Amber” colour in the entryway, but it proved to be too much hassle and it probably would have been just too much.
The knife magnet was Derek’s idea. And an amazing one. The first three knives you see hanging are the best. They are Opinel Knives . The set came with some smaller knives that are equally awesome, but I kept those in a drawer. The ones on the end are from Ikea, they were cheap and they really suck actually, I’m sure Ikea has other knives that are better but these ones were awful. There is a single sink that is pretty large and I like it better than those double sinks most kitchens have. The reason being is I can fit my pots and pans in it making it easier to wash and saving counter space.
I mentioned that the floors was one of the reasons for deciding to rent this apartment. THE reason I rented it was for the windows and the light. Oh the light! It was certainly not a dreaded basement apartment. I love these windows. If I was staying longer, I would have taken the hardware off and removed all the paint from them. The hardware is original. Ugh I can’t get enough of these windows. I love that they open, I love that they are white and I love how huge they are. For Christmas I bought some lights to put around the window and they looked so great I decided to keep them up all year. The overhead light in the room was a cold white light and I didn’t like having it on much, so in the evening I would basically turn all my lamps (my bedside table lamp and sometimes my desk lamp) and these lights. The glow was magical. Seriously. The apartment had radiator heat which was nice and I had Derek install this shelf under the window for the cats to look onto the street. They loved it and were up there all the time. The boards are just 2×4’s and the brackets underneath are again from Ikea.
I feel as if I should also mention that cleaning the apartment was key in making it look great. The windows weren’t so great when I moved in. They were disgusting and cloudy. Cleaning them made all the difference and made the light come through even more.
Ah this chair. Derek and I love this chair. When I first moved into the apartment I didn’t have this chair. Can you guess where it is from? That’s right, it’s from Ikea. It’s pretty much common knowledge that if you want stylish stuff at a more practical price go to Ikea. It’s the Strandmon wing chair and it was a Christmas gift for Derek and I from my parents. Derek loves this chair. I found it great for sitting and reading. You could lounge in it, but the back is upright enough that I didn’t fall asleep while reading. The pillow is also from Ikea, the little stool next to it came in a set of three that—believe it or not—was a gem I found in the spare room behind my bedroom at home. I made the blanket, it was my very first knitting project.
There wasn’t much room for a desk, but seeing as I was a student, for me, a desk was necessary. I made one fit. I bought the desk the summer I moved back home after completing my undergrad. My childhood room at home is very small, I loved it though. There is a slanted roof that I think I liked as a kid because it made it feel like a fort–kind of. I’m getting distracted, behind my room is a spare room. It was more like a sunroom I suppose, but my dad used it for hoarding–I mean storage. At one point, my cousin Taciana was living with us and she stayed in that room. After she moved out it became a dumping ground. Back to my story, that summer I had plans to write in my spare time, workout etc. I needed a space to do that and so my mom agreed that I could clear out that spare room and use it. That’s why I bought a small desk. I had applied to the program at Ryerson and figured if I did end up going back to school I would have a desk. The desk I got on Kijiji. The plant hanger was another find in my great aunt’s garage. Hoarding runs in the family apparently.
I took a picture of the calendar because I really liked the painting from that month and I thought the colours went particularly well with the tiffany blue on the walls. The calendar is a Thom Thompson, who belonged to The Group of Seven. Before this I used to buy Mad Men calendars and for some reason they stopped selling them. I was grateful though because now I much prefer calendars with paintings in them.
My landlord did say I could paint, her words exactly were “You can paint if you want, just nothing crazy like black”. I took that to mean paint it whatever colour you want except for black hahaha. I figured that because the apartment was such a mess before I moved in, she wouldn’t mind the paint colours I chose because the apartment will have been improved for the better. I actually got the inspiration for the colours I used from a local bakery in Waterloo called The Honey Bake Shop. Derek went to school in Waterloo so when I visited him we would go get macarons, cupcakes and other goodies. Here is a picture of their banner.
This is the Karlstad couch from Ikea. Derek and I liked the look of it and its practicality. You can remove and wash the covers. And since I knew I’d be moving again at some point, it is an easy couch to move down four flights of stairs. It’s fairly light especially since you can remove all the cushions, the arms and the legs. After I moved back home, Derek took the couch and was using it while living in his brother Mark’s basement. And it was moved again into our new home where it is now. We bought the couch together deciding it would be great in whatever location we lived in next. The grey going with just about anything. Also, my best friend Janessa stayed over a couple nights and slept on the couch. She said it was super comfy and she had a good night’s sleep. It’s not a sleeper sofa and she is much taller than me so that’s saying something.
The coffee table is something I saw on Pinterest. It’s a coffee table made out of palette wood. I showed it to Derek thinking it was pretty neat and he thought he could make it. So he did. Isn’t he great! I think it’s amazing. We bought hair pin legs on Etsy. It was a labour of love and I was so glad to use it, it’s perfect for storing books and things because of the spaces in the palette act as shelves.
This is a little spot I created in case I got home sick. That is a picture of my mom and I that I had hanging in my bedroom at home. The set of four pictures in the frame which you can’t really see because of the glare, are pictures I took with my film camera in high school for my photography class. They are pictures of my parents house in the front yard and backyard.The frame on the end table holds my Brazilian passport. The picture was taken before I arrived in Canada and lists my adoptive parents as just my parents. And then there is some greenery and a record player. The side table I got on Kijiji.
There was soooo much storage in this little apartment. I certainly had more storage than one person needs. That’s why the amount of stuff the previous tenant had outside of the closets astounded me. I guess I should have taken a picture of the inside, but there was a shelf near the top that went from end to end and had quite a bit of height. It could have doubled as a second bed. There was a rod below that for hanging things as well as some hooks. Crazy.
It was really important for me to have a separate space for sleeping and another space for studying and doing other leisure activities. The solution for that was to put up a dividing wall with curtains. That way the bed felt like it was in a separate room and I could also hide a mess if I wanted when I had company. I could also hide the mess from myself when sitting directly across on the couch. I also only painted up to where I hung the curtains. I decided on sheer curtains because that way it would let the light in from the windows in the morning making it easier for me to wake up while still providing privacy. If I was feeling fancy I’d tie the curtains together in a nice way and make my bed like I did here.
The bathroom was quite spacious. The floor was hideous but I was in no position to do anything about that at the time. I put up some hooks to hang some towels, the same ones I got from Home Depot and used in the entryway. The shower curtain I ordered from Urban Outfitters.
I did paint the walls a bright beige colour called “Cancun Sand” ooooh. The walls were a bit dingy before.
A lot of the things I bought for the apartment I was keeping them in mind for the future. I tried to make sure the stuff I bought would work in this space and in another space. Even though I was able to do what I wanted, I kept Derek in mind because I figured one day we would be moving in together and it would be nice if we could reuse a lot of the items. Luckily, we have similar taste when it comes to things like furniture and decor. Although I do prefer my paint colours quite a lot brighter than he does. That being said he still loved the paint colours I chose for the apartment. If you’re wondering whether we did end up keeping a lot from the apartment, stay tuned for an updated house tour. You can see how the same things work in a completely different space. I hope you enjoyed the tour of my old apartment, it means a lot to me because it was my first and because Derek proposed to me there too. I’ll miss you apartment! See you in the next one friends!