Tag Archives: decor

The big reveal: my blue and white kitchen

After having lived here for over a year, we’re finally able to say that our kitchen is pretty much complete and looks like a real, functional kitchen. That feels nice.

I’d already shared glimpses of the kitchen’s white and blue decor in this previous article. Here’s the full reveal (Please excuse the bad grain in the photos, I’m having trouble with the indoor lighting of photos these days):

Kitchen blue and white

white and blue kitchen

blue and white kitchen greece

The room’s white and blue color scheme was inspired by the Cyclades, a group of Greek islands situated in the Aegean Sea.  There, the local architecture mostly consists of cubic, whitewashed houses with colorful roofs (often in deep blue shades that mimic the color of the surrounding waters).

kitchen island bar stools

magnets and refrigerator photos

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Zen bedroom

As mentioned in the previous post, we’ve hired a painter to redo a few of our rooms.

Here is what the bedroom used to look like:

Here is what it now looks like:

As you can see, I kept the white and green color scheme, but decided to ad some dark brown wood to make the contrasts in color more striking.

I love how nice, breathy and zen it is. Having to move most of the stuff out of the room made me realize that I prefer a bedroom that is less crowded, more zen. I ended up reorganizing our clothes and random objects so I could move out the big white shelf that was on the left side of the bed, blocking easy access to it. I also removed some of the boxes that were on the top shelves.

Much better 🙂

Easy crafts for lazy people: Ikea Bekvam step stool hack

The title is a bit provocative but is every bit the truth.

I love crafting, but I’m lazy about it. If something becomes too complicated, I try to find another, easier way to do it, even if this means that it will come out mostly pretty but also imperfect.

When I was in art school, the art teacher’s assistant openly critiqued one of my pieces by saying that I always had good ideas but that my final execution of projects was often a little bit botched. I wasn’t mad at that assertion because I knew for a fact that it was true. I’m an impatient crafter, ready to sacrifice a perfect result to settle for pretty good.

All of  this probably has you wondering why you would follow any crafting tips and advice coming from me. Well, because like the T.A. said, I have good ideas, and if you are more of a perfectionist than I am, you might bring these art projects to another level.

Since we are visiting the living room right now, I will be posting 3 examples of simple craft projects that can make fun, unique elements of decor.

The story

Like many people, most of my furniture comes from IKEA. Most of IKEA’s creations are nicely designed but quite plain. I can’t have it that way, it’s not me.

It took me a while to find what I’d do with this Bekvam stool. It’s going to be used mainly in the living room but I need to be able to move it around and still have it fit well with the decor elsewhere. Yellow paint and Robert Doisneau photos make for a winning combination in that sense.

What you will need:

– White paint

– Yellow acrylic paint (I used Cadmium yellow)

– Mod podge  (gloss or matte, depending on your taste, I used matte)

– 2 black & white photos  printed on regular paper, measuring 7.5 inches wide x 9.5 inches tall

– 3 black & white photos printed on regular paper, measuring 3.5 inches wide x 5 inches tall

–  Extra photos just in case some surface is not covered

– Paint brushes

– Exacto knife

The easy process:

Start by painting the whole surface (except the top and the lower step) in a coat of white. Let it dry. Whilst that is drying, if you haven’t done so already, go choose the pictures you’ll be using for the steps. I printed out a bunch of summer themed photos by French photographer Robert Doisneau. Other suggestions of interesting black and white photographers: Henri-Cartier Bresson, Eugène Atget, Willy Ronis, Jacques-Henri Lartigue.

Once the white is dry, paint those same surfaces with the yellow shade. When you are finished that step, go have some tea, read articles on Bored Panda or watch an episode of Golden Girls while it dries. Depending on the thickness and texture, this process shouldn’t be too long. Now cut the photos and fit them so that each part of the desired surfaces are covered with photos (even the hole on the top, we’ll take care of that later).

If the photos fit, you’re good to go. Start by brushing a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the wooden surface. Then apply the paper, carefully, so it doesn’t create too many folds and bubbles. Once you’ve covered the two steps, go make some popcorn and watch The Red balloon. After you’re done with that charming short film, you should now be able to cover the full surface of the step-stool with a thin layer of Mod Podge. Just make sure that everything is dry before you apply that last layer. Once you are done with that, wait once again for it to dry, then use the Exacto knife to cut out the hole that is on the top step.

Done! You’ve got a fun, colorful step-stool!

The apple crate shelf

This apple crate shelf is in the hallway leading to the living room, standing just outside the door to the bedroom. It is, simply, three apple crates pilled one on top of the other. No further installation is required!

The top one holds my collection of CDs that I’ve built up over the years.

Apple crate bookshelf

I love music. Most people love music. I loooooove music. Can’t live without it. One of my great shames in life is that I don’t play an instrument. I intend to fix that shortly.

I haven’t bought a CD in a long time, and rarely do I pop them into my CD player now that I have speakers for my Iphone, but I wouldn’t give up my collection quite yet. Going out to buy a CD was an experience in itself. First, going to the store, finding the disc, buying it, bringing it home, then unwrapping it and placing it in the player for the first time. Buying music just isn’t as special now as it was then.

Looking through this CD collection brings back memories.

Apple crate shelf

Isn’t it kind of ironic that I’m holding my old CD collection in an apple crate, while all of my music now holds in an Apple machine?

Oldest CD in my collection: (CLICK ON THE LINKS TO HEAR SONGS FROM THESE CDS)

Backstreet Boys- Backstreet boys (1996) They taught me about love and heartbreak.

Newest CD in my collection:

Amadou & Mariam- Folila (2012) Soulful couple that hasn’t let their handicap (both are blind) define their life. I’ve seen them twice in concert.

Best guilty pleasures:

Hanson- Middle of Nowhere A boy band that wrote their own sweet pop songs, played their own instruments and are still together 15 years later? Yes please!

Luis Mariano- Les plus grandes chansons Many a dish was cleaned with this CD playing along as a soundtrack. Because of this, the dreaded nightly chore would take twice as much time to complete but turned into  memorable moments for my family. All the men would stand in the staircase crooning along to Mr Mariano while waving their dishcloths in the air to emphasize their already dramatic interpretations of such old time classics.

Everclear- Slow motion daydream This CD, though released in 2003, reminds me of the 90s, angsty and fun as I found them to be.

Top 10 favorite CDs in my collection (so, not counting any albums that I only own in Digital format)

Rufus Wainwright- Want two Most early Rufus fans cite Poses as being their favorite of his albums. Not me. Perhaps it is because I discovered him through this album and brought it with me when I traveled to France. I love the poppy music that plays under those beautiful but often tough lyrics.

Noir Désir- Des visages, des figures Yes, Noir Désir is my favorite band. It isn’t always easy to endorse this because of what happened with the singer. However, this band had such an impact on my teenage years that I can’t let go, so I try to separate the man from his art.

Neutral Milk Hotel- In the aeroplane over the sea  I listen to all sorts of music (from Balkan beats to Gangster rap). I like it all from the most formatted of tunes to deconstructed psychedelic song experiments. I think that last description is close to where Neutral Milk Hotel’s music would best fit. It is epic, at times dissonant but oh so beautiful to me.

Sufjan Stevens- Illinois Simply wonderful music. There are no words that I can think of right now that can do it justice.

Tinariwen- Amman Iman Desert touaregs from Mali that exchanged their fighting guns for electric guitars. Listen to this loudly, with the lights out. The ambiance it creates is so incredibly powerful, it’s breathtaking.

Ella Fitzgerald- Une anthologie 1948-1955 My favorite jazz singer of all  time. I vividly remember when my father bought a compilation CD with her greatest hits, because she died the next day! Her warm, smooth voice has served as soundtrack to many a wonderful family dinner.

Radiohead- Best of See previous article for description.

Nick Drake: Way to blue- an introduction to Nick Drake This compilation of songs by troubled troubadour Nick Drake is the perfect soundtrack for calm moments: rainy days; lonely transportation rides; hours spent watching the sun rise or set….

Vulgaires Machins- Compter les corps A band that hails from my hometown. I’ve loved them for years now and never get tired of them, even listening to their earlier, more juvenile songs. They’re very politicized and I still like the punk sound they have, even though it is getting softer with every album.

Karkwa- Le volume du vent See previous article for description.

East village poster

Another travel story. Yep. What can I say, traveling is my life!

I love my city (Montreal). I’ll probably always come back here even if I do live around the world at times during my life.

However, life is short and I want to experience it to the fullest and to see how people live elsewhere.

Traveling can be many things at once: intense; fun; amazing; exhausting; scary; disappointing.

It can be all those things, but it is never boring and never a waste of time. I’m happy I found a guy who agrees with me on this!

That is why we surround ourselves in objects that remind us of travels past and future.

For example, this lovely poster was found and ordered on Etsy. (Shop now defunt, unfortunately)

It’s a print of a pen drawing done by graphic artist Lucy Kirkman, who recreated the gorgeous view she had looking out of a window in her East Village (NYC) apartment.

I chose this particular piece because it’s pretty, because it’s simple and because it’s New York.

Ever since I was little, I’ve had such a fascination with that city.

I’d dive into my dad’s books, like The best of Life, in which were reproduced legendary photos from the famed american magazine. The stories told and pictures shown amazed me. Sometimes, at the sight of a picture of the cityscape, for a reason that I cannot explain to this day, I became scared and had to close the page, out of breath and panicked. New York terrified me, but I felt so drawn to it.

Summer 2000 marked the first time I went to the city. It was such an exciting moment! My dad had just inherited a bit of money from his childless aunt, so he, my brother and I could actually live it up while there. We went to visit my cousin, who lives an hour away from the city, and then set off to spend some time in the Big apple, on our own as a family. Before we left my cousin’s place, we were introduced to a friend of his who worked at the Empire State building and could lend us her pass to get up to the top without waiting in line. We felt like rock stars. Since this was pre 9/11, security was fairly lax and completely chill with letting people through to the top so easily, even going as far as treating us like VIP. I still remember the look of confusion, envy and anger that we got from the people who had been standing in line for hours. They were obviously wondering (some out loud) why we had zipped our way past them and the guards were putting us in the elevator that should’ve been theirs to take.

A second trip was taken in 2004, this time with my mom, brother, step-brother and step-father. I had a taken the initiative of planning the whole trip myself, since there were so many things I wanted us to experience. I had almost as much fun planning the trip than taking part in it. In fact, I believe all those hours spent perusing through my guidebooks like they were bibles and thinking Brian Silverman was my God, were the starting point to my ambition in becoming a travel writer.

I’ve been back to New York twice since then. Once last year, just for one evening, to take the bus home as I had been visiting my aunt in Long Island.

The other time was in 2008.

I had been traveling a lot during the summers of 2006 and 2007. Come summer 2008, I was now a university student, having to pay rent, food and other costs, so I didn’t have enough money to go very far. My brother and I decided to go on a little trip just the two of us. It was nice being together. We had a blast.  There are definite stories to be told about that time we spent together but none that are blog appropriate for now, so I’ve decided to add a little travel guide for New York.

It’s not complete.

I’ll probably make it more detailed some day but for now it has all that you need to have a blast in NYC if you are spending a few days there.

Here is my little travel guide for the city:

Restaurants to try out:

Pasha–  Turkish cuisine that is refined and refreshing. The mantı are absolutely exquisite. Service is discrete and attentive and the setting is charming.
70 West 71st Street  New York, NY 10023, États-Unis (212) 579-8751

Bubby’s: For some tasty comfort food, there’s simply nothing better than a meal at Bubby’s. The menu is made up of traditional American dishes, which are skillfully prepared, in portions that are generous without being gargantuan. Don’t forget to save room to try a slice of one of their famous pies! Two branches: Brooklyn and Tribeca
120 Hudson Street  New York, NY 10013, États-Unis (212) 219-0666

Kuma Inn: This Filipino restaurant is small and the portions are too, but it more than makes up with a warm atmosphere and food that is full of flavor and prepared with deliciously fresh ingredients. The setting is so intimate you’ll feel as if you were in someone’s apartment! You’ll work hard to find the entrance but once you are in, you will be rewarded for your efforts!
120 Hudson Street  New York, NY 10013, États-Unis (212) 219-0666

Grimaldi’s Pizza: Some people say that they would be willing to run across the Brooklyn Bridge  just to enjoy the pizza in this small restaurant that is located in the trendy DUMBO neighborhood. The decor is typical Italian pizzeria style, with a wall covered in photos of celebrities like Sinatra or De Niro, and small square tables covered with red checkered tablecloths. The service is fast and the pizza is incredible, with its crispy, chewy crust and generous toppings. After a meal, why not make the return journey on foot across the Brooklyn Bridge? The view from the pedestrian walkway is absolutely worth the effort.  There are other branches of Grimaldi’s pizza in the city, but the Brooklyn joint is the best. 1 Front Street, New York, NY, États-Unis (718) 858-4300

Siggy’s good food –  Yet another good restaurant to try in Brooklyn. This restaurant will appeal to vegetarians and other people seeking healthier fare.  Among the dishes tried in our two visits, we especially enjoyed the Live Earth salad, the turkey burger and Eggplant lasagna. During the warm season, tables are set on the street. Sitting there, sipping tea and munching on some sweet snacks, you can spend hours observing the beautiful fauna crowding the streets of Brooklyn heights, a charming residential area of Brooklyn. 76 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY, États-Unis (718)-237-3199 ‎

Hotels to stay at: 

Carlton Arms Hotel  : This hotel will appeal to those looking for accommodation that is less conventional. The rooms are comfortable, but don’t go to the Carlton Arms expecting a 5 star service. You’ll enjoy this place if you want to sleep in a very unique setting: each of the rooms, the lobby and the hallways were decorated by artists. For a modest price (for Manhattan), you will sleep in a place filled with unparalleled creative energy. The rooms have neither phone nor television but the hotel is well located so you would not need those anyway! 160 East 25th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-679-0680 ‎

Chelsea star hotel : Like the Carlton Arms, the Chelsea star hotel is a bit unconventional. If you prefer, there are rooms here with a more classic décor. For something a little funkier, there are the specialty rooms, each having a theme (Cleopatra, Madame Butterfly, Salvador Dali). People with tighter budgets will also appreciate the dormitories that accommodate about ten people. Here, the rooms are equipped with AC and TV. Prices are very reasonable, considering the neighborhood (a few steps from Madison Square Garden, has less than 15 minutes walk from Times Square).

300 W 30th St, New York, États-Unis 212-560-9010 ‎

Things to do:

The Museum of Modern Art is a must-see for fans of contemporary art. Opened in 1929, the museum has recently undergone a facelift under the design direction of architects Yoshio Taniguchi and Kohn Pederson Fox. The collection includes approximately 150,000 works of art that are presented in an environment all dressed up in glass and granite. Temporary exhibits showcase the work of the most renowned artists from around the world. Among recent past exhibits, one would recognize the names of Diego Rivera, Cy Twombly and conceptual artist Marina Abramovic. 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-708-9400

Brooklyn bridge: If your stay in the Big Apple is short and you need to visit quickly, this place is not to be missed. Crossing on foot via the pedestrian walkway takes about thirty minutes. Take the subway to  Brooklyn, then walk back towards Manhattan. That way, you’ll get the best view.  Each time of day brings a completely different feel to this walk. Why not bring along a book of Walt Whitman poems, so you can read his ode : To Brooklyn Bridge whilst actually standing on it?!

Funky and fun shopping:

Here are a few addresses to note if you’d like to find unique objects and cute gifts to bring back  home to your loved ones :

FAO Schwarz : A store that can be equally fun at 7 or 77, and every age in between!

767 5th Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-644-9400

Eataly: Paradise for foodies. You’ll find a variety of restaurants, cafés, specialty foods, bakeries, butchers and famously great gelato, all under the same roof. Warning: it will be crowded.

767 5th Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-644-9400

Dylans candy bar: To satisfy your sweet tooth, they’ve got it all. You’ll even find candy themed clothing or house wares.

1011 3rd Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 1 646-735-0078

1095 6th Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 1 212-278-0747

Pylones : A gift shop selling colorful objects that are useful, decorative and sometimes both at the same time!

69 Spring Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-431-3244

61 Grove Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-727-2655

Kid Robot : Sophisticated toys (that are actually closer to being works of art)

118 Prince Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-966-6688 ‎

MOMA design store: A collection of design objects and beautiful books to set out on the coffee table.

44 West 53rd Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-708-9669 ‎

Screaming mimis : For fans of vintage clothing, you’ll find retro, hippie, hipster and punk styles in this cute little store that is located in the artsy Lower East side neighborhood.

382 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-677-6464

Dean & Deluca : This high end food store is a veritable mecca for epicurean new yorkers.

156 West 56th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis

235 West 46th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis

235 West 46th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis

560 Broadway New York, NY 10012, United States (316) 821-3201

Going to see a play on Broadway:

A luxury, one might think. However, it is possible to find reasonably priced tickets. One might even get lucky and find an incredible deal! The tickets can be purchased via the internet on sites like http://www.playbill.com/or www.broadwaybox.com.  Once you subscribe to one of those sites, you’ll be entitled to substantial discounts on certain shows. The matinees are cheaper than evenings, as most times the stand-in actors are filling in for the main stars. You can go to the TKTS booths (there are 3), where last minute tickets are sold.