the pros and cons of living in a basement apartment

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Well its 22 days into 2014 and I will already have to break one my of my new year’s resolutions. Why? Because we are definitely NOT moving.

You may remember from an earlier blog post that I wanted to move this year. I vowed that 2014 would be the year where we would move out of our basement apartment and into an awesome new rental by the ocean. Well, we looked at some awesome apartments near the ocean and we got a HUGE reality check… living near the ocean in Vancouver doesn’t come cheap. Oh, and didn’t you hear? Vancouver’s housing market is the second most expensive in the world! So we decided to tally up the pros and cons of living in our current basement apartment to see if it was worth the move. Continue reading

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our first tree as husband and wife

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We got a tree… its tiny to fit our tiny apartment… about 4.5 feet tall and fake… but perfect. Over the weekend we decorated it while listening to Christmas music, cooked a lovely dinner at home and watched Love Actually (our favorite Christmas movie).

It was fun to combine our store bought ornaments with the ones that our families have given to us over the years. My favorite is of course my Michigan state ornament. Everyone in my family has one and seeing it makes me feel connected to them during the holiday season even though they are so far away.

It’s nice to think Andrew and I will do this together year after year for the rest of our lives. Maybe in a couple of years we’ll have a dog running around the tree trying to eat most of our ornaments. And then maybe in 3-4 years we’ll have a kid running around… trying to eat most of the ornaments.

I should probably look into edible ornaments.

our first apartment

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No, these are not photos of our new apartment. We’re not moving. These are photos from our very first apartment together. That was 5 and half years ago. Back when Andrew had a goatee and I had really short hair and apparently really good complexion!! Oh, the days before I put on BB cream or CC cream or whatever letter we’re on these days.

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Last week you might remember I wrote about apartment hunting here. I asked the question: would you sacrifice location for space? More specifically for us, it was more a question of: would you sacrifice your small basement suite in the city for a large condo rental 45 minutes outside the city?

Andrew and I talked about it and right now we value location over space. Our basement suite is great for just the two of us. However we’re sure that will change in a couple years when we decide to start our family or become first time home buyers. Writing about this topic last week and after taking the time to read all your insightful comments made me reflect on just how much can change in 5 years. Continue reading

would you sacrifice location for space?

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{Some dreamy living rooms I love from my living spaces board on pinterest}

I was so happy to finally meet Cait, author of the amazing blog Blonde On A Budget, this past Saturday at The Revolver in Gastown. Over lattes we talked about everything– but one topic in particular stuck out in my mind when I got home: her new apartment. After a crazy month/year of moving (read more about that here) she’s finally found an apartment she loves… in Port Moody.

Port Moody is a suburb of Metro Vancouver and is a good 45 minute commute by car. The idea of living that far outside the city used to repulse me. But then she told me about all the fantastic amenities her new condo has. The unit is only 5 years old and has a huge gym, pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, yoga room and a squash court! It’s right in the village with shops and cafes nearby.

When I came home to my tiny, damp, dark basement suite in Vancouver (ok, I am making it sound worse than it is), it got me thinking. Would Andrew and I be willing to sacrifice our easy daily commute for a better apartment?   Continue reading

Home trend I love: a collection of white ceramic vases

I find myself nesting a lot lately… reorganizing, de-cluttering and making the most of the small space we call home. Andrew and I are at that point in our relationship where we are slowly starting to get rid of a lot of the hand me down housewares from family and now buying decor items and furniture that express our style.

To get some inspiration, I’ve made blogs like design*sponge and apartment therapy regulars in my daily online browsing. But I have to say I am absolutely in love with West Elm’s catalogue. One finally opened here in Vancouver in my favorite neighborhood: South Granville, and I enjoy just walking around and browsing.

It’s one of those stores you walk into and think: I want my whole house to look like this one day! But I would need to be a ga-zillionaire to achieve that right now, so I decided lets start small first.

All over the West Elm Blog: Front & Main are great pics of small white ceramic vases clumped together on shelves or tables. It’s very modern, clean and funky at the same time.

So I was happy this past weekend when I went to Value Village to get some last minute accessories for my Halloween costume and found these three small vases that now sit perfectly on my book shelf.

What home decor trends are you loving right now?

Be careful what you wish for

There’s one thing I’ve learned about my new husband, and that’s that he hates to throw things away. First there was the sauce pot. The sauce pot with the handle that had broken off and as a result you couldn’t cook anything in it without oven mitts and even then it seemed pointless when we had plenty of other pots to use. That took him about a year to throw out.

Then there were the two hand me down bikes rusting outside our front door. The bikes that he swore he would fix… and then when he didn’t fix them, he promised he would recycle them for parts, but again didn’t. I suggested we take them to the dump months ago but he refused. I gave up trying to pressure him to get rid of them. Finally (3 months later) he said we should get rid of them. So I called 1-800-GOT-JUNK to pick them up and they were taken away the next day.

Most recently it was an IKEA dresser. We had a couple of mismatching dressers from IKEA in our bedroom. One was a white MALM dresser, the other one was a white ANEBODA dresser. Well it was the ANEBODA one that needed replacing because it started to collapse. Several months ago I suggested we get a new dresser, a MALM one to match the other MALM dresser we currently had. But Andrew didn’t want to buy a new one if the one ANEBODA dresser worked just fine. Even when the ANEBODA dresser drawers started to fall apart (literally) he denied we needed a new dresser and simply began to tape, glue and hammer it back together. Which worked for a few weeks and then the dresser began to collapse further.

It got to a point where his clothes were spewing out onto the bedroom floor because the front of the dresser drawer had just broken off to the point of no repair.

It pained me to look at the mess! I am sure by now you can guess that unlike my husband, I am someone who is very good about throwing stuff away. Out with the old and in with the new! But I knew until Andrew made up his mind to buy a new dresser, my persuasion would fall on deaf ears.

So finally the day came where he decided, OK, let’s go buy a dresser. My heart jumped with joy! My wish had come true! I had already picked out the replacement dresser I wanted at IKEA. It’s all apart of my master plan to revamp our bedroom so it looks more like an image straight from HGTV. As I said earlier, we already had a white MALM dresser. We actually got it for free from a friend who was moving. So I knew I wanted another white MALM dresser–same color, same height–to put flush against the other one so it would look nice and neat in our bedroom.

So we wasted a Saturday making the trip to IKEA and that night putting together this massive 6 drawer dresser, only to find when we finally assembled it and put it in the bedroom that it does NOT match the color of the other “white” hand me down IKEA dresser we had!

OK… so the difference is subtle (one is ivory and one is white white!), but its still there and I knew then and there that it’s going to drive me crazy.

I look at Andrew nervously and he looks at me and I know immediately what he will say before he even says it.

“It’s fine, we’re not getting another one when these work perfectly fine.”

My lesson learned? Be careful what you wish for.

An IKEA story

A trip to IKEA almost always turns into an argument about money among couples. No matter how much you plan and budget you always come out of IKEA buying much more than you thought you would. This can be particularly challenging when you and your partner have different ideas about how much to spend on things.

Although we dread the shopping trip (the long drive, the crowds, the Swedish-ness) it finally came time for Andrew and I to return to IKEA. We needed things like a new dresser, a wardrobe and other great storage investments for our tiny two bedroom. Neither of us were looking forward to the trip because of what happened the last time we were there.

The last time we were at IKEA, Andrew had a bit of a meltdown. We were there just before Christmas to buy a futon for our guest bedroom. Andrew’s parents were coming to visit for the holidays and we decided that we needed to provide something a little more comfortable than our blow-up mattress (your welcome John and Shelley).

Why go to IKEA you may ask if it causes such stress? Because IKEA still offers the most affordable futon that is still comfortable… and we’re on a budget. So we drove to IKEA in our tiny Nissan and went in knowing we were there to drop some serious cash on some merchandise. After selecting a futon that was both comfy and in my opinion “chic” we then couldn’t decide on what fabric cover we wanted on it. There was the grey futon cover and a white one. I liked the white one, but it was $50 more than the grey one. While I tried to argue that the white cover would look better in our space, Andrew strongly opposed spending more money just for the “look” of something and insisted we get the grey cover. Ok fine. I gave in. This should have been my first clue that the air was especially tense. Much more than usual. Not between us… but between IKEA and Andrew.

As we made our way to the IKEA warehouse with our cart to pick up our new futon we soon realized that it’s large packaging would not fit into our tiny Nissan. This is something neither of us thought of. So I suggest checking to see how much home delivery is. I leave Andrew in the warehouse and head over near the cashiers, to the home delivery counter to see how much it will cost us. The price was $70 and it would be delivered next day. Not bad I think. I also think we have no other option. Problem solved right? Oh  how wrong I was.

I get back to Andrew in the warehouse and tell him the price of home delivery. He then starts scratching his chin and then rubbing his neck (never a good sign). He looks down at the futon in frustration, refusing to make eye contact with me. And I think uh-oh he’s not impressed as I was with the home delivery option. I don’t know why now, but I was still surprised by what he did next.

He told me he was convinced we could get it to fit in our car. If we folded down the seats. If we bought some bungee chords. If I sat with part of the futon on my lap in the passenger seat. I protested and mentioned we have no way of measuring the futon and knowing if this will actually fit. The box was quite large and the largest thing we had ever fit into our tiny car were skiis and snowboards and even that was a tight fit. But that’s when I saw it. The look in my husband’s eyes that told me, Ashly you are not going to win this fight… even if you are right. He will have to figure this one out for himself. So I do whatever any other good wife would do at this point. I sigh… nod my head, shrug my shoulders and say “OK. Let’s give it a shot.”

So first he took my scarf and attempted to measure the box with the length of my scarf, then left me in the warehouse with our unpaid futon, went out into the parking lot and measured the car. He came back 5 minutes later and declared “It will fit.”

We paid for the futon, wheeled it out to the cold parking lot (it is December in Canada remember?) and began by opening the trunk, folding down the back seats, lifting the box and shoving the box in. It didn’t fit. Andrew is shoving it in with his shoulder, then kicking it in and then shoving it in some more. Nope. Not gonna fit. This will never ever fit. His face  turned red in anger. At this point I thought OK, he understands now. It won’t fit and we’ll just take it back into the store and get home delivery.

Wrong again. Andrew suggests something to the effect of, We need to take it out of the box and then the futon frame and parts will fit. I am screaming in my head NO NO NO NO NO. But all I say aloud is, “OK.” So in the middle of this freezing parking lot, with the sun setting, we use our car keys to cut the tape, open this large box, take out the parts and the frame and try to fit it into the car. Again it doesn’t work. Andrew is muttering and swearing under his breath. I don’t know what he’s saying but I know it’s nothing I want to hear. And I keep wondering why $70 is such a big deal? We are already dropping a few hundred on this futon. We have the money. What is he getting so upset about? So I have to laugh… although I try to hide it, seeing that he is clearly and visibly upset. At this point people are walking by in the parking lot staring at us. I do my polite nod and smile as if to say, Everything is fine, thank you for noticing, we’ll be done shortly, we don’t need any assistance… great day isn’t it? Beautiful sunset. 

Finally, he says “OK, I think we need to get home delivery.” I think No shit sherlock. But all I say is, “OK.”

The funny thing is 2 weeks later Andrew proposed. Apparently the night we went and bought the futon was the week he was buying my engagement ring and he was stressing out just a little about money. Key word: a little.

And if you’re wondering… IKEA delivered the futon the next day as promised, Andrew set it up and it looks great in our guest bedroom.