Apartment Love

I’m moving soon! And while there will be plenty to say about that in the future (hint), I wanted to take a moment to memorialize the current place before I dive into packing/ decluttering/ Craigslisting this week.

I was unbelievably lucky with this apartment. I signed a one-year lease without even seeing the place in person, and it turned out even better than I could have hoped–spacious, bright, lots of closet space. And, of course, the hardwood floors and avocado green walls turned out to be a great backdrop for my “grad school chic” aesthetic. (By which I mean–I managed to make Craigslist furniture look pretty good in here.)

This apartment has been a good place to live. Heart emoji goes here —> .

The Annual Balcony Refresh

These before and after pics are a little bit boring, because all I did was clean… but damn, scrubbing down my balcony once a year is just immensely satisfying.

Every winter, the balcony gets super grimy and even grows a bit of algae. It’s gross.

So each spring I wipe down the railings, scrub the floor, and wash the windows inside and out.

And afterwards, it looks SO MUCH BETTER, and I can step outside in bare feet without contracting tuberculosis of the foot.

Of course, scrubbing doesn’t help the globs of orange paint left behind by a previous tenant (I think the kitchen used to be that colour, if you can imagine!), but–so clean. So clean!

Of course if I were a legit blogger, I’d swap out the furniture I don’t like–the round wire chairs were inherited from the previous tenant, and they are NOT comfortable–and fill the place with way more plants, and maybe add an outdoor rug… But for a zero-dollar-enjoy-what-you-got-ain’t-nobody-sponsoring-this style refresh, I am happy (and sitting outside as I type this).

Here is one piece of shabby chic furniture I don’t totally hate.

Of course these days I’m not just scouring the internet for good refinished chairs; I’ve also been looking at a lot of tables.

I’m in the process of turning this adorable-yet-cruddy-thing into a sweet little dining table. The table top was really stained, and if I hadn’t been able to sand it down to an acceptable level of patina, I would have had to paint the damn thing. And as with the chairs, I had a terrible time finding examples of refinished tables that I actually like.

But this little server with its pink top and dark-stained legs is actually pretty great. Personally I would have used (slightly smaller) brass knobs, and of course there’s too much distressing on the pink paint, but setting aside those caveats… If I’d needed to paint my table, this would have been my inspiration.

Fortunately, my table is cleaning up okay, and I’ll be able to just give it a few coats of varnish (which is what you’re supposed to do with good wood furniture because wood is so pretty).

And as a post-script on the chic but not at all shabby front… I am definitely in love with the fabulous high-shine purple dining table in this house tour. However, my dad is a physicist-turned-Christmas-tree-farmer and not the owner of an auto body shop, so a professionally painted table with a custom-mixed colour isn’t really something my pop can whip up.

Living Room Love

My living room was all dusted and tidied the other day–almost like a fancy grown-up person lives here!–so it seemed like a good chance to snap a few pics.

Most of the items are Craigslist/ thrift/ hand-me-downs/ homemade, which I find incredibly satisfying. This room has taken two years to reach this point; I started out with zero furniture and now I live somewhere fabulous! How did that happen?


The mushroom- and artichoke-head prints are by Nate Duval.

The white and teal canister is from Russell Hackney Ceramics.


Miniature suburb by Donna Akrey; camera sculpture by Veronica Verkley.



Gallery wall includes work by: Belinda Harrow; Rebekah Miller; Todd Stewart; Meshell Melvin; Craig Francis Power; Meg Walker; Aubyn O’Grady; Sarah Burwash; John Steins; Heidi Neilson; Kerri Reid; Angela Bonnici; JP King; and Adriana Kuiper & Ryan Suter.


The T-shaped metal fitting is an artifact by Colin Lyons.

Behold: The OTTOMAN

I have been working on refinishing this ottoman on and off since early June, and it’s now finally done! It was one heck of a process; every step was longer and more difficult than expected. There were a million nails to take out, layers of ancient paint and varnish to strip from the legs, and trips to various parts of the city for foam, fabric, and batting.

The ottoman is a bit big in comparison to my vintage slipper chair and kidney-shaped side table, so it will normally live tucked off to the side. But I had to photograph it in this spot–I love how the shiny Tiffany blue and taupe brocade plays off the colours in the rug, chair, and the Nate Duval prints. It is also super comfortable–the perfect height putting up your feet, and for propping up the laptop for bingewatching Stranger Things.

Thing To Do on a Sunday: Take Your Lamp for a Walk

I find Craigslist to be vastly entertaining. I tend to not be very specific in my search terms, but just browse endlessly and have a million open tabs in my browser. I like the absurdities and the beauties, the highs and the lows. And while usually I just look at CL for fun, I do love the sense of destiny and kismet when you see a thing that just belongs to you, before it’s even really yours.


I have wanted another lamp for the living room for a while now, and have looked at all sorts of things from brassy hanging lamps to Art Deco nudes. Nothing quite hit the sweet spot of functionality plus price plus accessibility, however. I don’t have a car, so a CL purchase has to do what I need it to, at the right price point, and be either within a reasonable distance by bus or be reasonable to pay for delivery. Obviously in the case of my glorious conversation settee, it was worth taking the SkyTrain down to Richmond and paying for delivery!

In the case of this lamp, it was located an easy 2.1 km from my apartment. That’s walking distance! So, I emailed the seller with a $20 offer, and then checked my email obsessively for the next nine hours until she emailed back. Then, (after being so excited I could hardly sleep) it was walkin’ time.

Sneak peek–any guesses?

A photo posted by nottheactress (@nottheactress) on

How to Take Your Lamp for a Walk:

  1. Slap on some sunscreen. I recommend something sweat-proof–it’s hot out there!
  2. Put on your headphones, dark sunglasses, and a slightly bored facial expression–you’re not doing anything special or weird; you take your lamp for a walk all the time!
  3. Don’t make eye contact with any of the people who stare at you and your fabulous lamp.
  4. Take breaks if you need ’em–your lamp may be heavier than expected. Just pick a shady spot and pretend you’re getting a text message–bloop!
  5. Bring your lamp inside to its new home, where it belongs.


I am not 100% sold on the lampshade; in addition to being full of dust and a bit worn, it also doesn’t fit the lamp properly, and isn’t quite the right colour against the avocado walls. But it’s good enough for now. Also good enough for now is the little table: it is covered in waterspots and scratches. But I’m not in the mood for a furniture-stripping project (still recovering from the ottoman legs), so the plan is to find a nice large pot and stick a plant there.

And in conclusion, here is the obligatory…