Three days ago I was up to my eye balls in stress while a barrage of boxes and furniture negotiated by three strapping movers crossed the threshold of my temporary vintage apartment in The Annex. As each mover passed I barked the room where each item was destined and, to reinforce the location of said room, pointed my long bony finger this way or that. Having endured 5 days of on-going back-and-forth trips shunting the small stuff from the old places to this temporary one, as the final bring-in-the-big-guns-moving-company-marathon neared completion I was on the verge of exhaustion and couldn’t wait to get settled. In truth, I am one of those people who can’t live a moment feeling displaced.
So what does one do when the desire to nest rages after nine hours of continuous moving? One has a dinner party, of course! Ok, so it wasn’t a full out chef’s feast nor was I hosting a crowd of fifteen (that occurred three nights earlier when I spontaneously whipped up a three course dinner with just three hours of prep time to honour of a best friend’s Mom…now that’s a Great way to exit a beloved Home!), but I still put a roast chicken in the oven, steamed some vegetables, tossed some salad greens and heated up the mac and cheese my friends Marilyn and John had fed me in their generosity to provide comfort food sustenance the evening before the move. By 8pm Monday I was basking in the glow of candle light, surveying my new-to-me almost-settled space with dear friends, and toasting the beginning of a new chapter in life. It was a fantastic way to infuse my new space with great positive energy and love. Yea!
Since then I’ve put bows on the old digs. The Button Factory is completely empty of anything not relevant to the sale, super sparkly clean, and awaiting its next incarnation as a ‘belle loft for a stylish lady’. The company HQ is empty except for heaps of garbage, items to donate (all the kitchen and washroom cabinetry plus six appliances are being donated to ‘Habitat For Humanity’), and my ten foot high Hand Sculpture that won’t fit in the new flat. I also signed off on the finishes for my new custom cabinetry (cream laquer and distressed quarter sawn oak stained white, blue and dark walnut) and reviewed the final contenders in backsplashes and tub/shower enclosures (slump glass / acid etched mirror / glass & marble mosaic) and counters (stainless steel / marble / Caesarstone) destined for The Movie House where urbaneer.com and I will be relocating at the end of April. Stay tuned for the trials and tribulations of the next renovation!
In the interim, here are some pics of my temporary residence. It’s a gorgeous century-old 3000 square foot four bedroom grand dame of an apartment that feels distinctly European. This flat is a weathered old gal that has great bones, amazing proportions, and ethereal light. But here’s the deal. The four month sublet prohibits me from painting walls, changing anything electrical (the light fixtures are hideous and there is only one dimmer switch in the dining room – are you kidding me?!), or hanging art on any existing blemish free walls (there are some existing picture hooks on one wall in each of the eight rooms). For someone who lives to design, decorate and nest in mood lighting, this is a challenge indeed. But let me share with you some of my easy breezy tips to improve a space despite these limiting options.
Here’s the foyer. It’s gracious but has offensive my-eyes-are-burning shiny black and white flooring (allow me to lament on how I wish it were old faded black and white marble). To combat the visual assault of fake flooring I covered a portion of it with an Ikea sisal area carpet that provides a bit of texture, relaxes the space and can handle the salt and slush of winter boots! I also changed the chandelier lightbulbs to low wattage and covered them in paper chinese party favours, both to add a whimiscal distraction from the hideous flooring while simultaneously diminishing the glare caused by the vinyl blight. Incidentally, the greatest cure-all for most rental apartment infractions is to replace all existing light bulbs with the lowest wattage possible. Not only will this hide visual flaws like
wrinkles cracking plaster but it creates a warmer ambience. In fact, within hours of my arrival I even replaced the lights in the building’s common hall with 25 watt bulbs. Landlords take note…this is a sure-fire way to enhance the desirability of your property!
This apartment has great flow. From the foyer one can access the office, the sitting room, the dining room, or the hall to the kitchen and bedrooms. Here’s the very beige sitting room and bland ‘Before’ dining room (though the windows are spectacular):
And here’s the ‘After’ pics. While I would love the apartment walls to be dove grey, the abundance of beige serves to unify the space in its neutrality and rifts off the natural tones of the flooring and my furnishings. You may recall how I had my dining table(s) custom built by SNOB to accommodate my love of entertaining up to 16. Here’s a link to that post if you’re interested. Now the Kiaat wood table stands solo, the two cream lacquer tables have become consoles in the dining window (topped by vintage Blue Mountain Pottery which I find exquisite!), while the two hot-rolled steel sister tables have found their places as a breakfast table in the kitchen and a sofa table befind the sectional in the sitting room. Both sisal carpets are the perfect fit, as if they were meant to be, and to my delight the remaining furnishings have each found their perfect place throughout the flat. In truth I’m thrilled. Of special note, I love the enormous art piece original to Mark Tansey called “The Innocent Eye Test” located in the dining room. It was gifted to me by the previous tenant…which is an interesting post all unto itself and coming soon.
Here’s the sun-drenched very-stylish albeit temporary urbaneer.com HQ:
The kitchen has a pair of enormous windows with great south light but they’re covered in that plastic film you can’t see through. However, this also provides some privacy from literally hundreds of curious eyes belonging to privileged pre-school children who attend the Montessori School next door. The thought of unwittingly presenting them with a full frontal view of moi while making my morning cuppa horrifies me, so ultimately the lack of transparent windows are a good thing despite my appreciation for a dynamite urban vista. The kitchen also has room to accommodate a table and some additional storage, though in its original vacant form it felt a bit tired, bleak and pretty much the last place in the apartment any one would want to spend time in.
My solution? Add a similar Ikea sisal area carpet to cover more vinyl flooring (this one looking like dry clay and sand – Blech!), top it off with one of the hot-rolled steel tables with some extra dining chairs, add a classic modern teak buffet, place some favourite pieces on the existing Ikea shelving and carry a 400lb. vintage butcher block up three flights of stairs (ok, let your brawny hunky movers do it while you smoke a cigarette looking bored).
I love the original washroom…while it’s a little forlorn it has a deep soaking tub and a comfortable charm that feels like Home.
This is the kind of washroom where you can add all your favourite mementoes, and maybe that quirky lamp-slash-table you picked up at an estate sale for cheap that could never bring yourself to get rid of. How fantastic is this? I already find respite soaking here.
I’ve got some tweeking to do here ‘n there but welcome to my digs! Til the end of April that is! Then it’s time to move again! Sheesh! More to come…
~ Steven and the urbaneer team
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