Inspiration: a minimalist safari theme nursery

Only 10 weeks to go until the due date!

This past weekend, we started setting up the nursery for our baby boy. It still needs a few finishing touches, but I wanted to share some of my fav inspiration from around the web.

The Animal Print Shop by Sharon Montrose

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Although we often wish we could move sooner rather than later, we are fortunate to live in a 3 bedroom apartment. There’s our bedroom, our home gym and Mike’s office.

Although the room is much bigger, we decided we weren’t ready to give up our gym yet. It’s hard enough to get a work out in, so I know that once baby is here, we’ll both appreciate having access to the gym right at home. Since there certainly wasn’t any extra room for a crib in our own bedroom, we decided to set baby up in Mike’s home office. He doesn’t work from home every day and also sometimes works out in the living room or kitchen, so hopefully we can make it work. Working from home with a baby in the apartment will be a challenge of its own anyway.

The office is super tiny to begin with, so it’s definitely a tight squeeze, but how much space can a baby need, right? 😀

We went with an African safari theme, built around a super cute mobile that my friend brought home from her travels.

boy safari themed nursery

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Since it’s a teeny tiny small space, which I’m sure will ultimately be overrun with bright, colourful toys, I wanted to start off with a pretty minimalist backdrop. As much as I would love to go cutesy everything, the room is also Mike’s office, and I want to avoid making it over-the-top babyish.

zebra artwork nursery

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We don’t have a ton of wall space, so I love the idea of using one large piece of art work for a big impact and to drive home the theme.

nursery giant giraffe

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Ok, so we’re cramming the nursery into the tiniest space ever, but I’ve still been trying to convince Mike that we have room for a giant giraffe. He is not yet convinced 🙁

Bedroom Redecorating Reveal – AFTER Pictures

bedroom before and after

I shared some progress shots of our bedroom redecorating project earlier this summer, and today I’m excited to reveal the final results!

Before I share the details, let’s take a look back at the bedroom BEFORE. So ugly. So brown.

ugly bedroom - before picture

We went from THAT^^^ to this:

Redecorated our bedroom

Way better, don’t you think?

Now that the room is redecorated, it feels like a totally different, way prettier space. It didn’t come out anything at all like I’d initially planned, but piece-by-piece it took on a look of it’s own and the space is now so bright and comfortable.

redecorated bedroom - final reveal

I absolutely love this room. And because we did some major KonMari-ing, it’s always tidy! Since sharing the progress shots, we’ve hung curtains, mirrors and artwork, added gorgeous drawer pulls, repainted the radiator and found a rug and accessories.

I found a perfect spot for our beautiful Ketubah where we see it all the time at the entrance to our room.

framed ketubah - new bedroom reveal

Now that the transformation is complete, I feel like I get to sleep in a chic boutique hotel every night. Although we kicked Josie’s cat tree out of the room, she still enjoys hanging out in there. She hops on the windowsill every evening and she likes chilling under the bed now that the bed skirt gives her a little fort.

how I styled my minimalist nightstand

square abstract art above bed

How well does that art work in this space?! I love it! I’d struggled with what to put up there and had settled on the idea of a large black and white photograph, but then I came across this piece at HomeSense and loved that it incorporated the colours that we already had going on in the bedroom. I wasn’t sure how the square shape would look, but I think it’s perfect.

Malm dresser with ornate knobs - ikea hack

I found some great knobs that we were initially planning to use on the TV stand in the living room. On that piece, they looked way too big and didn’t work at all. But in the bedroom, these oversized knobs add character to our otherwise boring IKEA MALM dresser nightstands.

easy ikea hack - add drawer pulls to malm dresser

I was nervous about drilling into the dresser drawers since I was worried they’d get ruined, but it was a really easy project (especially since Mike did all the drilling)! It would have worked even better to drill the holes into the fronts before the drawers were assembled, but I wasn’t about to disassemble all of those drawers!

To avoid splitting, it’s suggested that you clamp the piece to another piece of wood as you drill into the front. Since we weren’t able to do that, the backs did not look great. To hide that mess, I found jumbo washers at the hardware store, and now no one would ever know. Not that many people see the inside of my drawers anyway 😉

ikea hack malm dresser - adding drawer pulls

The rug was also a HomeSense find. Large rugs can be so expensive, so I’d read a great tip somewhere online that suggested placing a medium-sized rug horizontally under the bed. Since the bed covers up so much of the rug, rotating it this way gives you more visible rug while still giving you something warm and soft to step onto as you roll out of bed.

bedroom rug

The only thing that I might like to do is replace the light fixture. It’s just one of those typical rental apartment fixtures, so I wouldn’t mind giving it an upgrade. Not sure what would work in this space though. Thoughts?

I’m also interested in adding an essential oil diffuser/humidifier. Our bedroom gets so dry, especially during the winter so the extra moisture from a humidifier is definitely needed. No need for large and ugly plastic units nowadays — I love all the super stylish oil diffusers on the market.

bedroom redecorating - final reveal

But for now, I am really happy to have checked this project off my list. The kitchen and living room are nearly complete, so I hope we can get those ticked off the list soon, too.

Visit this guide to finding the best router table or best chain saw.

Living room BEFORE pictures

I’m back from vacation and here today with some living room before pictures. And they’re a wee bit scary.

We’ve nearly put the final touches on our bedroom re-do, so I want to share pictures of that soon, but we’ve since gotten going on redecorating our living room, which desperately needed a makeover.

I’m really excited to redecorate this room because it’s where we spend the most time at home. But for that same reason, I want to tread carefully and make good choices.living room makeover - before

We’re keeping the couch, dining table (it expands to seat 8!) and chairs, and already replaced the old MCM TV stand with this dresser I found on Kijiji. Other than a few treasured keepsakes, we got rid of everything. Even the couch and chairs are due for new covers, so we should have a brand new living room by the end of this!

I did like our living room, especially in the evenings when it felt so cozy, but the two-tone paint job had to go and the room was really due for an update. It had been pieced together over time, but never with any real intention.

Living room makeover - before pictures

The first step was doing some major de-cluttering. I used the Kon Mari method (like I did on my closet) and was able to part with SO MUCH STUFF. Even those items I spent a lot of money on at one time, and those gifts that I hung onto just because they were gifts, and even some items that I really, really liked, but just didn’t have a place for.

Living room makeover - before pictures

You can see how much de-cluttering I did, from these pictures, since when it occurred to me to take some before photos, half of the room was taken up by things that we rounded up for our yard sale (no, we didn’t regularly keep a Keurig in the living room!).

Living room makeover - before pictures

Yes, our living room was kinda cluttered, but definitely not typically this full! Look beyond the piles of yard sale stuff and I think you can see what we had going on.

Even before I took those photos, we got rid of this oversized chair that no one sat in, but took up a lot of room. Covered in fur (blanket and cat) is the ottoman that doubled as a coffee table using a tray, which I also sold on Kijiji because it took up so much room.

Living room makeover - before pictures

The first coat of fresh paint is up now, and once that’s done, I’m hoping to find a few new pieces that will make the space feel larger and lighter.

And for a way back throwback, this is my living room from back when I lived with roommates, didn’t watch TV, and thought painting my walls burnt pumpkin orange was a good idea.

Orange living room - before picture

Closet Makeover: the KonMari Method

Although our new bedroom was almost done, one major thing left on my to-do list was to purge and organize my closet. It just seemed like a daunting task, so I kept putting it off. This weekend, I finally decided to tackle my closet and about 3 hours and 2 large trash bags later, I happily crossed that chore off the list.

You might have heard about KonMari, since this decluttering method has been all the rage in the blogosphere for the last several months. My sister lent me the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and although I never would have believed that a book about cleaning could be an enjoyable read, much less life-changing, it really is!

Nothing in this book is entirely new or mind-blowing, but the author, Marie Kondo, has a way of putting things that just really makes sense and helps to provide that little push to get rid of those but-maybe-I’ll-need-it-somehow-someday things. She promises that one proper and complete cleanout is all you will ever need to become and stay organized for the rest of your life. Since starting her book (I’m only about halfway through now), I’ve thoroughly enjoyed applying the KonMari method in every nook and cranny of our apartment. We’ve made numerous trips to drop off donations, we had a massive yard sale and we’ve filled bins and bins of trash and recycling.

I literally KonMari’d my “craft closet” into a single small craft supply box. I downsized two tool boxes to one. My piles of papers have vanished. And most recently, I cleared out an entire dresser and at least half of my closet. With every load I haul out of my apartment, our space becomes lighter and more comfortable. I didn’t realize how suffocating my stuff was until I got rid of it.

People joke that KonMari is a cleaning cult, and when I found myself raving about the KonMari method to friends over brunch this weekend, I knew I was completely and happily brainwashed.

kon mari closet makeover

This weekend, as I cleaned out my closet, I leaned heavily on these three principles from the KonMari method.

1. Take everything down.

This one is huge and its importance cannot be overstated. The KonMari method requires that you take down all the items and put them on the floor. For example, take all the books off the book shelf, all the dishes out of the cupboard, and all the clothes out of closets and drawers. As I got started on my closet, I gave this principle a thought and decided, “That just makes so much more work. Is it really necessary?” YES. Yes, it is. See that picture above? That’s my closet after I ignored KonMari’s rules and pulled items I wanted to get rid of off the hangers. See that pile? Not bad, right? WRONG. At this point, it occurred to me that if I was going to do this, I should do it correctly. She has these instructions for a reason, so I decided I would just trust the method and see what happened.

So I pulled every item off its hanger, every piece off its shelf, and every article from its drawer. And I get it! Making the decision to keep an item is entirely different than making a decision to get rid of an item. When a perfectly good shirt is hanging comfortably on its hanger, it’s easy to let it hang. When you pick that same shirt out of a pile on the floor you’re not just simply deciding if you want to leave it be. You’re forced to actively decide whether to keep it or not.

See those large bags below? That’s what I was able to eliminate using this approach. Compare that to the tiny pile above. Once I tried it, I got it.

kon mari my closet

2. Put everything in one place.

KonMari strongly encourages you to collect all like items in a single place before starting your purge. This is another principle that kind of had me saying, “Why bother? I know what I have.” Here’s the thing though. Imagine you’re clearing our your kitchen junk drawer and find 3 highlighters. You might decide to keep 1 or 2 of the 3. Then on another occasion you tidy out your office and find another 7 highlighters. So you keep another 2 or 3. Then another day, you’re cleaning out purses and book bags and come across a few more (I’m a researcher and spent a lot of time in school, so I’ve accumulated highlighters, ok?). Individually, you’ve done a great job of purging, but you still end up with 10 highlighters when you only needed a couple. That’s the importance of gathering all like items.

My closet and dresser are located in our home gym (Mike uses the closet in our bedroom). But we also added small 3-drawer dressers as nightstands when we redecorated our bedroom, with the plan that we’d eliminate my dresser in the gym. I use the top drawer of my nightstand dresser for my makeup (since I got rid of my vanity), so I wasn’t sure how I’d possibly downsize from my overstuffed 5-drawer dresser to 2.

But KonMari insists that you’ll always have exactly the right amount of storage once you have exactly the right amount of stuff. So I went ahead. I gathered all the items from my closet, my gym dresser and my bedroom dresser. I pulled the jackets off the hooks on the backs of doors and sweaters off chairs, and coats from the hallway closet. Then one item at a time, I started to go through my giant mountain of clothes.

kon mari my closet

3. Hold each item in your hands.

As a professional organizer, Marie Kondo is in a bit of a love affair with items. She whispers sweet nothings to them and thanks them for their service. I haven’t gone that far, but I’ve taken to heart her requirement to hold each item in your hands before making a decision about whether it should stay or go. I’ll give an example. I looked at a particular sweater in my pile of clothes. A light knit, pink, with white polka dots. I’d worn it often enough this past winter and it was in perfect condition. I’ll keep it, I thought. Then I picked it up. And with it in my hands, I immediately recalled how I felt when I wore it. It was a tad bit short, slightly itchy, and I just didn’t really love it. So into the ‘donate pile’ it went. That was the magic of holding each item. I didn’t try anything on as I went through this closet cleanout, but as I picked each item up in my hands, I was easily able to decide to hang it back up, slide it into the drawer, or say goodbye.

I now can easily see everything hanging neatly in my closet and my clothes have room to breathe, avoiding wrinkling. And I did manage to clear out that entire dresser, reducing to only two drawers in my nightstand with room to spare. And that’s the magic of tidying up!

Have you tried the KonMari method? Is your closet due for clean out?