Thursday, August 30, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Pet Friendly

Having crappy neighbours and their crappy cats (apologies, feline lovers) everywhere makes me appreciate my dog all the more. He's so good and he's so cute and dadblast it, he deserves his own special piece of home, too.

Underneath my stairs is a crawlspace. They couldn't have named those any closer to the point: You go through the tiny door, and access the space by crawling, but then I guess if you're short enough all you have to do is hunch down. Mine isn't too big, maybe three by eight feet, but it's great for storing just about anything. Until recently, it was full of boxes and paint cans.

When I bought my loft I got two things with it: A parking spot, and a storage locker. I didn't have Joey at time of purchase, but figured I'd get a car eventually and voila. Parking occupied.

I figured I'd need the storage locker, oh, just because. You never know when you'll need that extra bit for a rainy day and besides, it's a tidy little plus for resale, too.

A few days ago I was going through those boxes and paint cans in my crawlspace when I got an idea. It took me a while, but I emptied everything out of there, then carted it all downstairs to the storage locker (downstairs in the garage). Stupid thing to do in the month of August; sweat galore! But back in the loft, not an hour later, the nook under my stairs was completely revamped.

In the very back of the crawlspace is an end table I no longer use, holding all kinds of things like serving platters and cushions. Things I won't need unless I have parties or lots of guests.

Right in the front of the crawlspace, when you open the door, is Blue's bed, a few of his toys, and his special pillow. Just a little something for my little four-legs, a place for him to nap or just chill in general. I'm still trying to find his name in letters so I can tack them up on the wall above his bed.

Unfortunately, my opinion of the nook is quite different from Blue's. This little space has not gone over well with him, not at all, and when I ask him to lie down in his bed there, the look of panic on his face is priceless. Needy bum. I suppose he prefers stretching out on the sectional with mummy, and I don't really blame him for that. It's one heck of a sofa.

Then again, I wasn't totally wrong about a dog needing and wanting their own space. Blue doesn't think much of his nook, but Loulou's dog Petey thinks it's positively the cat's meow.

Hopefully, the next thing I do for a dog will be loved by my own!

**Just a small note to thank everyone for putting up with my frequent absences - getting everything together these past few weeks has been hectic at best. It's been a great break from writing, if only to experience a little more of life and collect even more stories to tell you all about! There's plenty more in the weeks to come, including pictures when all is said and done...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dear Cat Owning Neighbours,

While I do consider myself a dog person, I would never go all out to say that I actually "hate" cats. I do not hate anything. However, you are furthering my dislike of these creatures by letting your felines crap on my terrace.

While we must be at a certain odds with each other because that is the way between dog and cat people, I do not whatsoever appreciate wasting my very valuable time shoveling shit with a garden trowel. Let us take a tally of the damage thus far:

Monday: 7 turds
Tuesday: 5 turds
Wednesday: 3 turds
Thursday: 3 turds
Friday: 4 turds

I always found it amazing of the reprimand that dog owners face if caught not picking up their doodies, while outside cats are free to roam and do as they like. Remember this: Just because you don't see what your cat does, doesn't mean she isn't doing anything at all. You may not be picking up after her, but it's very likely that someone else is.

Furthermore, if I actually wanted to live in a litter box, I would let my dog run hog wild throughout my home.

Should this arrangement continue, I will be forced to resort to more extreme measures. Don't come crying to me when your cats are running through your townhouses with paws covered in chili powder. And should one of the village dogs all of a sudden become, oh, predisposed to terrorizing cats when he was never allowed to before, you all had it coming.

While I am sorely tempted to leave a bag of flaming dog poo at your doors, I must remind myself that I am out of grade school and this would reflect badly upon me, if discovered. Then again, I haven't been pushed past my limits yet. I ask you not to test that.


The Ticked Off Resident

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I sincerely do apologize for my lack of posting recently; please believe me when I tell you that for the past couple of weeks, I've been in a perpetual chicken dance. Chicken without its head dance, that is.

My place has never looked better, but there's still lots to do. As for my relatives, the first wave arrives tonight...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just yesterday....


"Yes, Cheech?"

"As you know, my cousins start arriving in a few days, and my decor time is running out. So I was wondering..."


"If just maybe..."


"I could ask you for a few favours? Please?

"Sure, what's up?"

"Well, I have some pictures to be put up."

"That's no problem at all. I'll come over on Saturday and take care of that."

"Thanks! I have a coat rack that needs to be put up, too..."

"I can do that with the pictures."

"Towel ring for the bathroom..."


"Robe hook for the bathroom too..."

"Anything else?"

"I just might have a garbage can that needs to be installed to the cupboard door."

"Just might, huh?"

"And there's still the problem of the stiff window... but that's it, promise."

"Cheech, I will be happy to do these things for you. That's what the best boyfriends in the world are made of."

"Aww, thanks Ace! I may not know how to do much in the home repairs sense, but at least I have spectacular taste."

"Yes, you do. You know, we're like Home Depot, you and I."

"How's that?"

"You can do it. I can help."

"Uh huh."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Project Bathroom

Hateful things about my bathroom: A gold door handle, gold hinges and gold knobs on my vanity. Really, this isn’t 1989. What were the developers freebasing when that happened? I’m less than bonkers about that vanity, too. It’s wood and that’s fine, but a blond stain? Pfft.

Mediocre things about my bathroom: Blue tiles, as in Aegean sea blue. They’re okay and all, even if I had limited say in their choosing. I’d much rather prefer stone brown tiles, which would blend terrifically well with my second floor swathings of chocolates and purples, but they’ll do. Actually, they’ll have to do. Pfft again.

Bathroom love: What I’ve done to it. On the outside of my door are two small blue rectangular vintage bath signs, advertising baths and towels for 10 and five cents, respectively. They’re unique, and support that retro look I’ve dotted throughout my pad.

I also love my white waffle shower curtain, white shaggy rug, and truckloads of white fluffy towels. I love my shower rings capped off with replicas of vintage white Hot & Cold faucet taps, and corner of my vanity that’s home to my very small silver clock with its tall stand. Every bathroom needs a clock. How else are you going to know when you’re running vicious late in the morning? I love my white, blue and brown china bathroom accessories, and I love the rectangular silver tray on top of the throne that now displays my three most awesome cologness: Fig Cassis & Black Vetyver Café by Jo Malone, and Tobacco Caramel by Fresh.

I love even more what will be done to my bathroom and that is, painted. As I write this, Corey is over at my place, going above and beyond the call of Brother-in-Law duty by doing some painting (among other things) for me. So here it is: I have deep blue tiles, and plenty of white things that currently, are washing my bathroom out. My solution is to paint the walls to match the floors, giving me a big, deep blue space with striking white accents.

Okay, blue wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but this is okay by me. I’ll just pretend my bathroom is a spa. Remind me to throw in some lit tealights for parties.

As for the ridiculous gold door handle & hinges, throughout my entire place in fact, they’re on my To Do list of the future. Must concentrate on the larger things at hand for my almost-here relations, see. I’ll just have to ignore that tacky stuff for now, pfft again. But at least the vanity is getting new stainless knobs, so the old ones are going, going, gone. Phew.

Monday, August 13, 2007

So you want to decorate. So you’re a cheapass. Join the club. I’m one of the unfortunate many who likes the finer things in life, but detests paying for them. That said, it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make the implausible, possible.

Here’s my personal dozen, in no particular order:

1) Gay Friends. Artistically inclined gay friends, or the severely fashion nitpicky, are even better. When in doubt over which colour or settee, gather your divas and mull on it over espresso.

2) School Thyself. The Home and Garden Network isn’t just there for your health, you know. Decorating isn’t boring and textbook like it used to be, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of different ways to do things. Stick to a few shows or designers whose style you like, and watch an episode every now and then. Picking up a magazine or two never hurt, either. Take down the addresses of interesting boutiques or instructional sites, and educate yourself on the finer points of décor.

3) Good Maintenance. The cheapest, most incredible way to spruce your place up and give it that extra little something, is to really take care of your wood furniture. Don’t believe me? Go out right now, buy orange oil wood polish, and spend an hour or so greasing down your pieces. The rich shine is something remarkable, especially on dark furniture that picks up fingerprints all too easily. I’m telling you, that old piece of junk inherited from your older sister’s dorm room comes to life, and what once cost 20 bucks looks priceless.

4) Paint. Never underestimate a good coat of the stuff. It’s a quick, cheap way for a new look, and the most effective. Plenty of arguments can be made for white, and I do agree with some of them, but then I was never one to begrudge a wall of deepest red, either. Benjamin Moore says that every room has a perfect colour, and to find it. I say, every room has at least 10 great colours, and they’re not that hard to spot. Stock up on colour wheels and swatch books.

5) Wallpaper. It was greatly in vogue once upon a time, then suffered a bad rap. So did a lot of things in the eighties. But the resurgence of wallpaper is on the rise, and your creativity levels with it. There are some gorgeous patterns out there, not to mention great old patterns made new. Wallpaper is easy, cost efficient in a lot of cases, and totally fabulous. Just remember not to overdo it: often, an accent wall is the most striking.

6) Candles, Candles, Candles. A lot of people will say candles are passé, and they are if you go completely wax bonkers. But, done properly, they’re striking. A beautiful pillar arrangement is a simple, beautiful centerpiece on a dinner table, and candles in the bathroom gives that spa-calming effect. But if you intend on burning them, be careful with the scents you choose. I usually go for unscented candles, just to avoid mixing all the smells together. Not nice.

7) Eagle Eye, young paduwan, Eagle Eye. Shop around. Know the great shops in your neighbourhood, and all the greater ones in surrounding neighbourhoods. Also, it’s not where you shop, but when you shop. If there’s something you really love and really want but can’t afford it, don't just settle for something else: Stick around for the price drop. January and July have the best sales, and signing up for mailing lists is a step up. Also, take advantage of store credit cards, but only when they have those incredible offers like the, "no interest for a whole year" poo poo. And never, ever forget about outlet sales.

8) Think Vintage. Flea markets and antique sales are great places to find hidden treasures, and they’re easy on the wallet. That beat up old chair frame really just needs some TLC; sanding, staining & painting is easy enough for anyone, and a good upholsterer can make the ordinary, extraordinary. Just make sure to shop around for a good one.

9) Bargain Art. How many times have you heard me say that by now? Think about it this way: there are a lot more obscure, unheard of artists, than famous expensive ones. Go to arts shows, go to crafts shows, scout gallery openings and exhibitions. Go to an art school and see what the students can do. You don’t even have to frame a great painting either; just get the canvas stretched for a fraction of the cost and hang it that way. Wonderfully urban, minimalist, and doesn’t distract from the art itself.

10) Frames. There are times when frames are great though, and lots of them on a wall or assembled on a surface are a wonderful way to tell a story. Frames are sold for thousands of dollars, and frames are sold for a couple of bucks; variety of frames is virtually endless. Invest in a mat cutter for the customized look, and don’t forget to be creative, either. I’ve framed antique handkerchiefs, vintage stamps, and greeting cards. One of the pictures I get the most compliments of is an ad for a White Star Line ship, circa 1910. I printed that picture from the internet, on photo paper.

11) Ikea. Go on, laugh. Done? Good, shut up and read. If you can put up with the bullshit of hauling and assembling yourself, Ikea is a goldmine of finds designed to suit every pocket and every need. Be warned, though: it is very, very easy to be caught in the Swedish trap. While I do think Ikea is fabulous, I would personally die if I had to wake up every morning to what looked like their second floor, and not mine. Thus, use their looks to accent yours, and not the other way around. I didn’t even think of buying my coffee table or bed at Ikea. Then again, I’m not even thinking of getting my bookshelves anywhere else.

12) Finally, It’s the Little Things that Count. Your personal touches are what make your home yours, after all. Your memories, your finds, the little treasures that mean nothing to anyone but you, are what dazzle. I’ve been collecting interesting tins for years, and it turns out they look marvelous in my kitchen. The empty Pastis bottle I found in Paris, the ancient camera I got in Prague, and the even more ancient typewriter I got at a garage sale will all be displayed somewhere. So will the vintage volleyball I picked up in London, and the little statue from Amman. My big, lumbering sofa is awesome and all, but it’s these little things that are me all over. After all, I want to comfortable with my home, and I want my home to be comfortable with me. It’s these little things that get places of honour.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oli’s townhouse is behind my loft. I have discovered something interesting: When I’m not at my place for longer periods of time, she likes to spirit my things away. As per our conversation a few days back:

Me: Hi sis!

Oli: Hi sis!

Me: So chikita, you know I specifically came down this week to clean, right? Want my place all spiffy and slick for when the relations arrive?

Oli: Uh huh. How’s that going, by the way?

Me: Fantastic! It’d be going even better if I could find my vacuum cleaner.

Oli: Oh, that.

Me: Oh that what?

Oli: I borrowed it.

Me: When?

Oli: Dunno, a few months ago I guess.

Me: Oli, you have a vacuum.

Oli: Yeah.

Me: Oli, why do you have my vacuum?

Oli: Yours works better.

Me: Were you planning on returning it?

Oli: At some point.

Me: Great! While you’re returning it, would you throw in the Goo-Gone?

Oli: What do you need that for?

Me: To get rid of a small stain on the carpet, it looks like wine. Only Goo-Gone will do the trick.

Oli: But I have it.

Me: I kinda figured that.

Oli: I’m using it, you know. It works really well.

Me: Yes it does, that’s why I got it. Put it in the box that has my vacuum and bring it on over. Oh and Oli…

Oli: Yeah, sis?

Me: Do you have my iron?

Oli: Maybe.

Me: Don’t you have your own iron?

Oli: Maybe.

Me: Why do you have my iron?

Oli: It works better than mine.

Me: That too, huh? Well if we’re going out later, I’ll be needing to look presentable.

Oli: Okay.

Me: The Dryer look won’t do.

Oli: Okay.

Me: Do you have anything else of mine?

Oli: I don’t know, I’ll have to look.

Me: You do realize that by taking these things away, you’re hindering my cleaning process?

Oli: Yeah.

Me: What have you got to say for yourself?

Oli: I put scented beads in your vacuum. Now it smells pretty.

Me: Wonderful.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hi kids!

I must beg your forgiveness over the next little while, as I concentrate on scrubbing and finishing my abode, rather than writing. Relatives will be here very soon, after all, and my possessions must look presentable. Or clean, at the very least.

So think of me on these beautiful summer days, not enjoying the weather, but swearing my head off, elbow deep in wash buckets.

In the meantime, enjoy this corny joke that Sandy told me last night:

How do you please an Amish girl?

Three Mennonite.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Decorator's Handbook: Project Bedroom

I love art, you all know that. I love the picturesque qualities of realism, the daring of nouveau, and the raw strokes of abstract. I especially love the brilliant, economical finds of the undiscovered artists, either the up-and-comers or the forgotten, buried in pockets all over the world, painting and sculpting solely for the sake of creation.

I think I’ll forever fancy myself a Charles Howard, searching far and wide for his Seabiscuit, the looked over, tossed aside winner that he purchased at bottom dollar.

Why then, am I hanging up a canvas from Ikea?

The whole notion goes against what I believe in. Great art, bargain art, scouring the expanses of the globe etc., versus completing my bedroom with what’s been duplicated millions of times, and sold in a Swedish franchise. Why am I doing it?

Because it’s Audrey. Who isn’t just a little bit in love with Audrey Hepburn?

I discovered Audrey in high school, the years when I had a wonderful relationship with the VCR. My social life wasn’t exactly kicking, so on the weekends when I wasn’t studying or with friends, I rented movies. On a whim one Saturday I bypassed Ghostbusters II for Sabrina, and was dazzled by the big eyed, big smiled, slip of a girl telling the man she loved, with just the slightest of accents, “I have a lovely evening dress with yaaaards of skirt. Shall I wear it?”

She was beautiful, she was elegant, she was in a class all her own. She was a star of the silver screen, the goddess of the golden age, and she’s immortalized on canvas to decorate my bedroom wall.

It’s a picture of a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a close up of Holly Golightly in the little black dress she wore to her own party, with her hair swept up. In one hand is a cigarette, her long eyelashes are lowered amusingly, and the half smile on her face make you think she’s up to something. I don’t remember if it was before or after this scene that she told Paul Varjak, “I don’t want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I’m not sure where that is, but I know what it’s like. It’s like Tiffany’s.”

It’s a great picture for a room. It’s a great picture for a girl’s room, especially if that girl has a room done up in the dark colours that one would think becomes a boy. She gives it that bit of sass, Audrey does, and will forever smile at anyone coming up my steps.

What can I say? She fits here. I’m asking Sandy to help me put her up next week. S’wonderful.