A Living Room Makeover: Matt & Melissa's Story

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Matt & Melissa - my first design clients! After starting a very beautiful relationship, they were moving in together. I've known Melissa for a while now so when she broke the news, not only was I super excited for them, I knew this was going to be a project close to my heart. That & she might have also shouted HELP! Her new place felt like a guy's dorm room & reminded one of a dark cave where light hardly ever shines through. I'm never one to turn down a good challenge so I braced myself for what I was about to see. She was right...the place needed some love.

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Decorating a rental apartment always poses design challenges because structurally there isn't much you can change. You work with what you have and make the space feel like your own and give it personality. Add to that a limited budget (which isn't a bad thing!) and you have to really love the thrill of finding the right piece at the right price. Taking the time to understand your clients' needs and their story is therefore the most important thing you'll do in the design process. 

Melissa works in PR and is charming and chic with an amazing fashion sense (she's also one of the most organized people I've met when it comes to planning her wardrobe). Inspired by old Hollywood/classic styles, she pretty much carries Paris in her heart! Matt works as a TV producer and is a huge cinema buff. You'll find bookcases full of DVD collections that he claims are 'prized possessions' (I was able to convince him to part with some of them ;) ). Matt's vibrant personality means that things are always light, fun and interesting. Bring both of them together & you're going for a modern look with hints of nostalgic and classic finds in an airy and brighter apartment. 

Here is the small but significant transformation. A change of paint colour (Sea Froth, Benjamin Moore), a new wallpaper treatment (Sherwood Taupe, Graham & Brown) and a bit of styling can make a world of a difference.

Coming home from a long day of work should always be about comfort and warmth. It's the worst feeling to come to a place that you cannot enjoy or call your own. The work lies in the small details - enhancing what's important in your life be it through things you enjoy, objects that remind you of good memories, colours to liven things up or just a more functional space. Where you live should tell your story and I love that Matt & Melissa's redecorated place speaks to their new phase together.

First clients always have a special place in your heart, especially if they're as lovely as mine. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and allowing me to turn a man cave into a comfortable space for the two of you. Hope you continue to enjoy & grow in it.

Small Space Win: Converting a Den into a Functional Bedroom

It's been over a year that my sister and I moved into a 1+1 bedroom apartment unit in downtown Toronto. We love the neighbourhood, how close we are to the waterfront and honestly, compared to other condos in the area, the price was something I could afford. The only thing is that IT IS really built for one person and we've tried to make this apartment work for 2 girls. My sister who moved to Toronto for university, left a lot of her things but she still has a lot more than a den can hold. Moreover, there isn't a lot of shared storage space in the apartment. Since she's going to school, she also needs space for A LOT of books. After trying to make the room work as is for the 1st year, it was time to do a much-needed room makeover. The process started while my sister was away for summer vacation but took some time to complete and put up on the blog.

Before - Plan View

Before - Plan View

This is what we started with before. Aside from the space being small, the room poses a challenge with a traditional style heating/ac unit. The width of the room didn't even allow for her twin bed to fit in horizontally. We made the bed work vertically for the time being, but it never left much room for anything else, and definitely not much walking space. Besides the drawers chest and under the bed storage, there wasn't any room for books. They found a home on the floor instead!

We also had this rather dull looking off-white paint colour, which my sister destroyed by putting up pictures with cheap bluetack (notice it below). I was left with a wall full of sticky stuff to scrape off.

Wall Paint

Wall Paint

I wish I could make this room into a luxury bedroom but that's not going to happen so it came down to prioritizing 3 key things that I wanted this room to do:

  • Sleeping area: Fit the existing twin bed with under-the-bed storage, while leaving some room to walk (and not bang your knees on the corner every morning)
  • Storage: Ample storage for books and cloths as well as an area to display travel finds and jewelry
  • Depth: Room should feel bigger and brighter

The room was given a full makeover keeping the above in mind. To start off, I chose CIL 'White Lilac' (colour matched it to a Para Paint as I was already getting 'The Silhouette' by Para Paints for the living room) as the paint treatment across the room. The colour is light and feminine and has given the room an airy feel.(Tip: make sure you get a good quality painter's tape, one that doesn't take your newly painted surface with it. I chose the 3M Scotch Blue for this project).

The next challenge came with adjusting the bed so it would fit horizontally. This required a bit of handy man work where I had to take out the side casing of the bed to cut the width and re-level the bed with a wooden plank. The casing is to hold two bed frames as one unit (one pulls out as a guest bed but isn't needed). I'm pretty proud of my Ikea hack here as the bed was a perfect fit after the adjustment and opened up the entire room.

In order to add extra storage and display area, the room has a nice little niche, used for small shelving on either side. I added 3 to each side, leaving the middle for picture frames or artwork (still looking for the right one!). Since the space opened up, I was able to fit a lean bookcase and add storage boxes for papers.

Finally, the most fun part of the project was styling it with my sister's travel finds, pictures and few new accessories.  A mirror was hung above the dresser to give more depth to the room, and the jewelry that was hidden away in drawers, displayed on top. I also put up a jewelry hanger on the side walls (believe me, this girl has a lot of jewelry for a 19-year-old!) and added a lovely Chevron laundry hamper in the small space between the dresser and heating unit.

Here are some pictures from the final look. (Now the challenge is to keep it looking like this!)

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What do you think?