Hallway tour + update

I’ve been in the process of overhaul updating our apartment. The biggest task to date was updating our hallway, and for the most part, it’s finished! Yay! But there are minor aspects of our hallway that are very much unfinished [light fixtures, artwork etc]. It’s still a work in progress, but the bones of the work are done.

I’ve never shared detailed pictures of our hallway before because it was a hot, embarrassing mess of high gloss yellow paint for 4 years. Over the past few months I’ve sanded and repainted [95% of] the skirting boards and doors in our apartment, with the biggest impact being in our hallway. It’s definitely been a labour of love; slowly updating each door, room and detail at a time. 
To start the tour, our hallway is a reversed ‘L’ shape with our front door located at the heel of the ‘L’. Here’s how it used to look and what I did to bring it up to date … 

In the picture above, I had already painted the front door so you can’t see the glory that was how reflective and yellowed high gloss it was, but trust me, it was awful. 

We were gifted some tattered collapsible paper lantern fixtures in the hallway from the previous tenants. I’m guilty of leaving those up until very recently. The combination of the warm hued bulbs and the lanterns yellowed the hallway even more. At the moment, I’d rather bare bulbs until I find something better. 

The transom window over the living room door had privacy paper stuck to both sides of it, rendering its purpose to provide natural light to the hallway almost completely obsolete. I got sick of it and removed it. The hallway side came off easily enough, but the living room side was a lot more work. It was brittle and was impossible to peel off so I marched to the fridge, grabbed the mayonnaise, brushed a healthy layer onto the window and left it for about a week. It was gross, but the high oil content in the mayonnaise softened the paper and I was able to peel it off. Lady-rage has its benefits. 

As you can see on the right side of the photo above, I still have one door left to paint – the kitchen door. We’ve actually never used this door as there’s another entrance to the kitchen from the living room. In fact, I have shelves against the door as our kitchen is teeny and we need the extra space. I’ll need to take the shelves down to repaint the door, so that will need to wait for a rainy day. And trust me when I say this door was the least yellow of the doors. 

My efforts to de-IKEA our place has been pointless as of late, especially since I discovered IKEA’s new eketanga frames. And planera glasses while I’m at it. I just can’t not. I hung up two frames over the storage heater in the hallway and I’m quite happy with how well this little nook looks. 

Oh I do like our front door before and after. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and makes all the hours of sanding worth it. I took all the hardware off of each door in our apartment while repainting it and gave it a good clean. And when a simple clean wasn’t enough, I had to sandpaper the old paint off. 
The Pendleton Cowichan [aka, The Dude’s] Cardigan I painted a couple of years ago is still going strong. It has also found home in an IKEA eketanga frame. It rests on the small floating shelf in our hallway, which is home to our change jar, a couple of trays for sunglasses and I thought it only too appropriate to use a tumbler glass to store our keys, taking pride of place within reach of The Dude’s cardigan.  

I took these before pictures in March of 2014, so it only took me a year to get my act together and tackle the hallway. C’est la vie. Here you can see just how delightfully glossy the hallway was. It was like having your very own distorted hall of mirrors, except on 9 doors. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least. 

I am completely and utterly guilty of conforming to what I like to call ‘landlord walls‘; hanging your pictures on your landlords existing hooks in stead of starting over. Our hallway looked like the above for about 4 years. I really wasn’t pleased with it, but it was better than nothing, right? Actually, no, it wasn’t. Nothing would be a lot better. 

It was a sad attempt at a gallery wall. When I repainted the hallway I stripped everything back so I could start over. I’d prefer to have 2 or 3 bigger pieces of art along the main wall to make it feel less cluttered. I’m just really indecicive these days as to what to hang. I quickly added a few things for our visiting guests, but have since taken them down.

I swapped the existing bulbs to IKEA’s opal globe ledare bulbs to add a neutral and less-yellow light to the hallway. I am however really stuck with what light fixtures to use. I tried tumbler shades, but I’m thinking wire shades spray painted in Montana ‘winegum’ would be more punchy while not too restrictive on light. 

A final little cheeky and unexpected update I made to our hallway was painting the haggard wood behind each strike plate. While the hardware was removed, being cleaned, and the door frame repainted, I decided hey, you know what would look neat? If I painted that butchered bit of wood! So I did. I originally was going to paint the strike plate innards red, but I thought that might look a bit morbid; like it was the guts of the door frame or something. So black it was.

It’s not a change that people stop and notice, but I think it really streamlines the doorways and makes them seem a little more modern, personal and less ‘rental’. It cost me next to nothing to do as I used a small tube of black acrylic paint I’ve had laying around for years.

Well I hope that little tour wasn’t too tedious for you! Once I have some form of shades for the hall lights and a bit of artwork up, I’ll share some proper finished hallway pictures. But for the moment, albeit the changes are small, our hallway feels more mature and dare I say sophisticated! If you’ve cracked the code on good [and affordable] hallway lighting, I’d love to hear more. Or artwork! I am clueless. 

In case you missed it – you can read my tips for painting doors and skirting boards here!

Canadian man cave – coordinating mismatched furniture

While it isn’t a groundbreaking blog post, today I thought I’d share a cheap and cheerful design tip that I’ve put into action on a couple of my projects to date. 

It’s a simple tip that I used again while redesigning my brother’s Canadian man cave; there was some mismatched pieces of furniture in the room so we removed all the existing handles and replaced them with coordinated pieces to make the room feel less mismatched and more sharp. 

A small detail I know, but to me, those are the sellers. The devil is in the details. It cost us under a tenner for the whole room and it made the room feel more considered and designed as a whole. 

The main piece of furniture I changed was the hardware on the desk drawers. Originally, my brother and I each had one of these drawers in our bedroom as our bedside lockers growing up. In my parent’s new place, there isn’t room for both lockers in my brothers bedroom so one is being used as much needed desk storage. 

To make the drawers feel a bit more mature, we repainted the drawers plus the wavy detail above the top drawer in an effort to make it seem sleeker. I repainted the drawers with Dulux‘s Exterior SatinWood paint in ‘iron clad’ that was leftover from our bedside table and stools. When the drawers were dry, we then replaced the handles with some sleek ORRNAS knobs from IKEA. Queue gentleman’s desk companion extraordinaire … 

To further coordinate the room, we took off the wardrobe’s existing boring builders handles and replaced them with more ORRNAS knobs from IKEA. It’s impossible to photograph the wardrobe and the desk drawers together as they’re on opposite sides of the room, but trust me, these small details really help tie the room together. 

Some really minor details, but it really makes a difference. I bought new handles for our own home office and updated ours at the same time. While our new old desk doesn’t match the shelves in our living room, I coordinated all 9 handles on the shelves and desk and it ties them together on another level. I did this again last year for Picado by coordinating the new kitchen hardware with the vintage dresser knobs. 

They’re tiny details, but I find they make thoughtful impacts. 

How to repair a very worn rug (and why flatwoven rugs suck)

Yes. The wildly shameful image above is our IKEA Stockholm rug. This is it, 18 months after we bought it. 

When I first brought our new rug home, it was heaven. It fit perfectly under our couch and coffee table, and gave a serious punch of black and white to the room. It really anchored the look of the space and I couldn’t have been more smitten. However, as the months went on, I realized exactly how difficult it was to keep. And I realized why.

The IKEA Stockholm rug is a flatwoven rug; meaning, it is tightly woven in a loop vs. regular low pile rugs that aren’t woven in a loop. Meaning, it ages quickly. 

The area between the coffee table and our couch got the most ware. This is where we would walk from our kitchen [to the left of the picture above] and cut across the living room to get to our dining area [on the right]. We also spent a lot of time here as this is where we watch TV, entertain guests and sometimes work.

Another reason why flatwoven rugs are a bad idea is cats. For anyone who doesn’t have a cat, I will explain that cats have a natural urge to sharpen their nails. As Toshi is demonstrating so gracefully below. I trim our cats nails regularly, so that minimized the damage that could have happened to the rug. Whenever they picked at the rug, it would pull at the flatwoven closed-loops and sometimes snag. Not cool.

It’s something that didn’t even occur to me when we bought the rug. But now I know. I’m in no way mad at our cats because it’s a natural urge of theirs. They can’t help it. So maybe if you have a cat and are on the lookout for a rug, you’ll know too. Learn from my mistake. Low or high pile rug = good. Flatwoven rug = bad.

Case in point – we have a black and white IKEA Virring rug which the cats also scratch, but because it’s a low pile rug, their nails sail through it like a breeze and it has zero damage.

So if you have a flatwoven rug that is damaged like some of my incredibly embarrassing photos above, do not fret. There is a way. And it is a breeze.

I first started to trim the rug with scissors. That was laborious and tedious. I quickly had a eureka moment and realized – why not just use husbands electric hair trimmer? So I plugged it in and it was like some form of wizardry …

Trim. Vacuum. Literally good as new. I was nearly in tears. It was perfect. No word of a lie. I will accept baked goods or folding money as a thank you. You’re welcome in advance. 

I should explain that my husband doesn’t use this hair trimmer so it was okay to use it. When I was finished, the trimmer wasn’t dirty and was in perfect working order for the next flatwoven mistake that comes our way. Or you know, for hair. 

Our rug turned out so neat, tidy and nearly new that I was in fact able to sell it. I wouldn’t have been able to sell it if it wasn’t to a high standard. It’s all part of my attempt to make our apartment less obviously IKEA and I already have my eye on a couple of second hand low pile rugs to replace it. These colder months really call for rugs. Neatly trimmed rugs.