How blogging taught me to do things the right way vs. the easy way

I’ve been blogging for 7 years now and I will be the first person to admit that in the beginning my projects were terrible. I used regular wall paint on furniture, I glued things together instead of buying the hardware it needed, I wouldn’t wait the recommended time between coats [because I want it done NOW], I’d skip steps to speed up the process and I went for the cheapest option vs. the option that was most suitable and would last the longest. It was definitely a mix of my age at the time and inexperience, but I’m quite proud of how far I’ve come these past years.

A lot of how I now treat projects I owe to two of my favourite bloggers; Anna Dorfman of Door Sixteen and Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely. I started following both women around the same time I started my own blog. Two [of the hundreds] of their projects that stand out the most was one of Anna’s posts about updating the cast iron radiator in her kitchen and a post of Nicole’s was when she was updating the sink nook in their walk-in closet. I don’t know why, but these posts stand out the most out and from time to time I think about them. Effort and research went into both [seemingly straight forward, but not] projects. They took their time and weren’t done in a day. If they needed more time, they took it. They didn’t take the fastest route. I remember being so interested in both posts and their surrounding projects. Both Nicole and Anna often do research into the history of whatever piece their working on and manage to make the intricate updates and processes interesting. I mean, radiators and filler don’t particularly scream ‘exciting’, but I was captivated by both projects [and about 1,000 of their other projects] and the underlying theme of doing something properly. 

It’s not a great example because it’s the only project I’m working on right now, but case in point – our living room. When we moved in it had a beige ceiling, grey walls, two shades of grey on the picture rail, grey painted trim, windows and doors. For a few weeks I considered what colour to paint the walls and on Friday I bought paint for the living room. Knowing it will make the biggest impact, I want more than nothing than to paint the walls. But another part of my brain reminded me there’s an order to things – the ceiling should be painted first because it makes the most sense [working from the top down etc]. So on Saturday I painted two coats of white paint on the ceiling. It was exhausting but it looked fantastic compared to it’s previous beige! However, on Sunday morning reality hit and I realised it needed another coat. 

Did I want to climb up that step ladder, pinch my hip countless more times and crane my neck for another 4 hours to paint another coat on the ceiling? HELL NO RIGHT HERE 🙋 But I did it because I knew it wouldn’t be done properly otherwise. Yes, the ceiling looked good after two coats but it had ever-so-slight shadows of uneven paint. I painted another coat and it now looks immaculate compared to its previous self. Yes, it was annoying as fuck having to do that last coat and on a Sunday. But which was worse? A few hours of extra painting, or the next X-number of years looking up at the blotches of uneven paint that irked me? During those few hours on Sunday morning before I painted the third coat all I kept doing was looking at the damn blotches so I knew if I didn’t do another coat, my eye would keep getting drawn to them. 

What I’ve learned over the years is to take your time and think about the right way something should be done. If you’re not sure, ask in your local hardware store or Google it. If it takes another week to get a project done, it takes another week. I had to learn a lot about patience over the years and I’ve learned to appreciate not taking the easy route. And I have Nicole and Anna to thank for that. 

Repainting a high chair black

One of the first things we bought when we moved to Ottawa at the end of September was a high chair for Cora. We bought it secondhand on Kijiji [the equivalent to Adverts in Ireland] for $40. I really liked the old-school shape and style of it and the table flipped the table to the back so when Cora is a little older it would allow her to eat at the table with us. It had so much charm that I couldn’t resist it. And yeah, one of the back spindles broke and had been replaced some years ago, but I didn’t mind at all. It was in good shape and was clean and safe [I wouldn’t have put Cora in it otherwise], but I had every intention of updating it. 

For a long time I wanted to restain it. It had a dark wood stain but 16 years of use had worn through it so there would be a lot of sanding ahead of me. Sure! I’m up for it! But then I actually thought about the work involved. All those spindly bits. Such spindles. So many damn beautiful, intricate spindles. I’d have to sand the entire thing back to the original wood to get an even coat of stain across the whole piece. So much spindly sanding. And to be honest, I didn’t have enough mental energy to do it. 

I thought about painting the entire thing a solid colour. I thought for a few weeks before deciding on anything [if I’m ever indecisive, that usually means I need more time to think]. In the mean time we bought a dining room set secondhand [also through Kijiji], and its black dining chairs were the reason I went for the set so I figured, why not paint Cora’s high chair black to match?

I headed to our local Canadian Tire and spoke to their paint experts about what I was looking to do. They suggested Rust-Oleum‘s line of Tremclad paint for the likes of outdoor furniture and toys. We decided on their Rust Paint in black as it was high gloss and I’d need something easy to clean for Cora’s high chair. 

Before I got to work, I disassembled the entire top half of the high chair as the black frame wobbled from side to side – not to the point that is was dangerous, just loose from years of use. I wanted to do a proper job of fixing it and I couldn’t tighten the spindles without taking it apart. 

I painted each piece in a light coat of paint and waited around 6 hours before applying the second coat [I waited so long because it was drying on our cold porch. If it had dried at room temperature, it would have taken less time]. I waited a further 12+ hours before reassembling it. I glued all the loose spindles back in place with Gorilla Glue and let it dry another half of a day before letting Cora use it. 

It looks SO MUCH BETTER as one uniform colour and it’s so easy to wipe smeared avocado or peanut butter off of it [it was tough to clean it properly before if any food got into a part of wood that was untreated]. I think it looks quite posh actually! Yes, I totally spent $250 on our child’s high chair …

I doubt black would be a colour many people would think to paint a high chair, but it looks really smart alongside our new dining set; all of which are black [sans the table]. The woman I bought the set from had ‘upcycled’ [her words, not mine] the set by spray painting the chairs black and painted the seats with grey chalk paint [which makes zero sense], so I’ll be repainting each of our chairs in the same [more suitable] paint as Cora’s high chair so they’ll all match. They already look really well together now that they’re the same colour and I can’t wait to share more of our dining set soon. SOON!  

New new apartment tour!

Two weeks ago I gave an tour of our apartment in Ottawa. We’ve since moved into a new[er] apartment! What happened was another apartment within our block became available and our landlord offered it to us. Robert and I viewed it and immediately agreed to make the move. As I said to our landlord, it’s not like our other apartment was bad or had anything wrong with it, but this apartment had a few extra details that we both really liked. So we jumped at the opportunity! 
Last Sunday the tenants moved out and we moved in. Poor Robert did 95% of the moving since I had destroyed my right hip* a few days previously and it was difficult for me to even walk. I ate some pain killers, we got on with it and 5 hours later, we had moved in. 
The previous tenants were very sweet and left a lot of things that we needed, so we inherited a lot of really great pieces. Once we got the keys, I quickly took some photos of the space. Like, really quickly. So excuse the slap-dash photography. The layout is the exact same as our last apartment, just the mirror image of it. To make a bit more sense of it [and to show the difference in size], I edited my landlord’s original drawing to show the layout of our new new apartment … 

The living room is painted a warm grey throughout, the ceiling is a sort of beige colour and the fireplace is painted a darker version of the ceiling. I’m not here to point fingers at colour choices – we all have different tastes in colours and design and I’m very okay with that. I will be however repainting the apartment over time to colours that are a bit more ‘us’. For the moment, I’m at least hoping to paint the ceiling and the trim around the door and windows in the living room white. That’s the plan so far for this room. 
The room next to the living room is the master bedroom. Our room is a bit bigger than our last one as it doesn’t cut in at the corner [this can be seen by comparing the bedrooms in the drawing above]. The closet space [seen behind the door] is bigger and the room is brighter [we’ve since taken out the air conditioning unit and the room is much brighter now]. The previous tenants very kindly left the box spring for a queen bed as they knew our mattress was directly on the floor. I can’t handle Canadian’s kindness. 

The bathroom is the only room that needs some TLC. Shelves and a storage unit were hung with good intentions, but they’re not really suited for the space. It doesn’t look like it in the photos, but the walls, heater and ceiling are painted in a very light almost-peach colour. I’m hoping to paint the trim, door and heater to white and I might have some fun with what colour I paint the rest of the room. I might even stencil the bathroom! Watch out. I’m getting carried away with myself now.

Our dining room is really lovely and these photos don’t do it enough justice. The ceiling is a muted terracotta colour and the tenants explained they repainted the rest of the walls recently to an off-white because the walls were previously a very strong blue. The ceiling isn’t that noticeable when you’re in the room, unless you point it out. Which is something I do often. It’ll be getting repainted, more than likely white. But strangely, I don’t hate it and it isn’t driving me insane, so it’s not on the “get it done now. Why aren’t you doing it? Are you doing it yet? I can see the stepladder from here. This is killing me” list.  
Like in our other apartment, Cora’s bedroom is just off the dining room. A big plus for us with this apartment was that the wood floor boards outside this room weren’t loud and creaky, whereas the floorboards outside Cora’s room in the other apartment were so loud that we would wake her up when trying to sneak in and check on her. Again, these photos don’t do justice to how lovely Cora’s room is. It [and the dining room and our bedroom] overlook a main road with some really beautiful houses and Cora already loves standing in the windows waving at whoever passes by. 
The kitchen is also off the dining room, and for me, it makes a lot more sense arranged on this side of the building. Mainly because the fridge door doesn’t open against the small work area next to the stove – does that makes sense? In the other apartment I had to walk to the other side of the fridge and open the fridge door the other way, whereas this way, it’s much more ergonomic. I know that’s not a big deal, but it was so many small details like this that made sense for us to move on up. 
The kitchen is bright and we have a larger back porch off the back of the building. Not that we needed more space! To us, these apartments are more than enough. I’m just worried I’ll feel I have to fill the apartment …

I think I’ll be prioritising the living room, bathroom and Cora’s room to get in order first. I have some small projects here and there [like updating Cora’s highchair, our dining chairs and our gorgeous inherited dining room table] that I can work on in the mean time too. 

*I didn’t want to sound too whiny, so I’m including hip stuff down here. I’ve had hip problems since I was about 6 months pregnant. It was bad in the early days when I slept at night, it felt like my hips were popping out. Then after Cora was born, I had ongoing pelvic separation, a pinched nerve within my hip that caused my left leg to go numb, lower back problems, sacroiliac joint dysfunction and now an inflamed hip socket. But it’s getting better! Having to pack and move apartments twice in the past month didn’t help, but I’m working on being kinder to myself. That’s not going to be as easy.