Tag Archives: renting

The Painted Suite

For the past two weeks, all of my spare time (except for the hours I somehow fit in the entire season one of Suites – thanks for the recommendation, Catherine and Nikki!) has been spent painting and painting and painting.

Our tenant moved out right before we went to Alaska, and we decided not to look for another one until we returned. We had time to list it, show it, and paint it, allowing for a September move-in.

We really wanted to paint because there are only two little windows in the place (bedroom and kitchen), and the dark colours accentuated how cave-like it was. It also happens to be all the same colours that I am slowly working on eradicating upstairs – weird yellow and cheap-chocolate brown. Not too appetizing. So I changed that!

Take a look at the before and afters!

What you see when you walk through the entry door.
B&A 2Moving forward and turning right, you enter the kitchen!B&A 1 Turning around and looking back to where you entered (the entry door is the brown one; we are still going to change that out and that’s why it’s not painted).B&A 3 Before reaching the bedroom, we have the bathroom on the left-hand side.B&A 4 And then the bedroom. B&A 5Besides the entry door, there are a couple other things to take care of, such as a few pieces of trim and hanging some shelves to get the microwave off the counter in the kitchen. But I am kind of proud of this suite of ours, and it makes me so excited to see the difference just colour can make. One day our upstairs will be changed too!

I want to say a little thank you to Nikki and John who helped with the painting, and I hope and pray that this space is a blessing to our new tenant, who moves in today!

Living Situation

As you may or may not know, the house we live in is up for sale, and has been since early April. In those three months, I have spent a considerable amount of time making sure the house is tidy and presentable for showings and for the realtor to come and take photos. And we have also been unsure of what would happen when the house sold. There were a few possibilities:

1) The new owner would want to keep this as a rental property and keep us on. If this was the case, we were aware that our rent would probably go up significantly because I think we are getting a pretty good deal on this place.

2) The new owner would want this as their own residence and we would have to look for a new place to live.

3) If the house never sold, the owner would likely keep it or sell it to her father who has other rental properties in the area.

A couple offers have been put on the table, only to be pulled off. The price has lowered by $20K, and it still hasn’t sold. And now the owner has decided that she wants to try harder to sell it, and that it will be easier if the house was not occupied. So that means we have to move at the end of July.

Of course I am not looking forward to having to move, but just the other day I was telling my sister in law that I was worried I wouldn’t have enough to do to satisfy my “nesting urges”. We moved houses in Victoria when I was 8 months pregnant with Calvin, so I had a whole house to organize and put together. I was thinking that this time I would only have the pack and play to set up and a few clothes to throw in the wash. But I have a whole house to organize yet again! Woohoo!

We know that God must have an even better place, if not equal to, whether it is in a better neighbourhood (although I really like this one), or a better monthly rate, or with landlords who care a bit more about the quality of their property. We will see where we end up.

But first, we have a road trip! Tomorrow we are leaving to visit some family in Manitoba. We will start looking when we get back, which leaves us a mere 3 weeks. Eek! In the meantime, we are accepting donations of boxes!


The Kitchen

I think about my dream home a lot. Really, who doesn’t? Since being a renter for 6 or so years, in 3 very different types of homes (both Tim and I have been blessed enough to not have ever had to live in an apartment building), I feel like I have a really good grasp on the difference between what makes a space livable, and what makes it perfect.

Here is the first kitchen I had on my own:424089_10151311729975315_938276775_n

I was renting a suit that was half of the upper floor of a 1905 Victorian house. I loved the suite, but since it was a small space, the kitchen was left a little lacking.

What I liked:
– I could stand in one place and do everything I needed to do
– the fridge was short enough to use as storage for things, like cutlery and drying dishes
– small amount of floor to keep clean
– new, white appliances, even if they were apartment sized
– there was a sort of pantry, in the hallway (could have also served as a linen closet)

What I did not like:
– lack of cupboard space (those puppies were crammed with the trickiest of all cupboard jigsaw puzzles after we got married)
– small drawers; drawer space should never be underestimated
– the corner cupboard set up; the corner drawer to the left of the sink opened to a cavernous space that led to the back corner, walled off from the rest of the cupboards, making the back corner unusable for things you needed to get at often
– single sink (especially since there was no space on the right to put dishes once cleaned, hence the rack on the fridge)
– boring “landlord’s special” cabinets
– open to the living space

What I would change:
I would probably stick a custom IKEA kitchen in that little corner! There are tons of ways to be a lot smarter with this space. Maybe some shelving above the fridge. I might even go as far as making it a U-shaped kitchen with a little breakfast bar. It would take up some of the living room space, but it would nix the need for a dining table.

It served me well enough for 2 years, and Tim and I for an additional year. And as much as I may miss that suite, I am glad I don’t have such a tiny kitchen anymore!

Next we moved to a ground level suite in a 1980s house, and this is the kitchen we had for about 6 months:


It was an odd space smack in the middle of the suite. There were four entries/exits from it: the dining room/entrance (to the right), hallway to the bedrooms (where photo is taken from), bathroom (straight ahead), and living room (in the back left). Behind the wall that is blocking the view on the left in the full sized fridge and two full upper cabinets, or four doors, however you count them.

What I liked:
– white cabinets
– double sink
– decent amount of counter space
– tasteful laminate counters
– the corner cupboard were the normal kind with the bent door (easier access to the back)
– lots of cupboards
– “closed” floor plan
– big drawers
– you can’t see it, but around the side of the cupboard by the door to the living room are a couple open shelves
– counter space on the opening side of the fridge

What I did not like:
– no natural light
– no pantry
– bathroom coming right off the kitchen
– the cupboards were actually too shallow by about 0.5cm to hold my dinner plates

What I would change:
I think whoever put this suite together did the best that they could, given the space. However, in the hallway to the bedrooms, which was more of an strangely shaped room than a hallway, I would build some shelving to serve as extra storage, not only for the kitchen but for the rest of the house which only had one two foot closet (one bedroom didn’t have a closet, and there was no linen closet).

So besides the general layout of this room, there really wasn’t much I didn’t like. Not my dream kitchen, but not a whole lot to complain about.

And now, for the first time since living at home, we have a kitchen that is actually built as a kitchen in the original home layout!

photo (1)

This house was built in 1967 and these cupboards are definitely original. It’s a little bit funny to look at since there are no upper cupboards above the lowers, and no lowers under the uppers. Although there probably once were some where the dishwasher is.

What I like:
– huge window above the sink, also meaning lots of natural light
– pantry; however it only has two shelves in it, so it is used only for my appliances and brooms; the rest of the pantry stuff is stored on a shelf, as I’ve posted about before.
– double sink
– lever faucet (so much better than two separate knobs!)
– counter space on the opening side of the fridge
– the shelves in the lower cabinets are actually half sized, making access to the bottom back super easy; I had never seen it before, but it makes perfect sense, especially in the corner cupboard!
– dishwasher; such a bonus for a renter
– the white counter top; it may be really old and falling apart, but i like white counters
– the stove vent vents right back into the room so the entire upper cabinet is useful

What I do not like:
– black appliances
– bulk heads; what is the purpose of those, anyway?
– the pantry isn’t functional enough for pantry items
– tile floor
– sparkly back splash (this is the least “me” feature in this entire house)
– no cupboard above the fridge
– the drawers are too narrow to hold modern day utensil holders

What I would change:
First of all, I think the layout could be better. I would move the dishwasher to beside the sink, left or right, doesn’t really matter, then center the stove on the long wall so there is counter on both sides. I would also add a small island since there is so much dead space in the middle of the room. And I would make the pantry a part of the cabinetry instead of a closet style. And as I’ve mentioned in at least a couple posts, I would paint paint paint!

Being the one kitchen that is in a space that is actually for a kitchen, I think it has the most I could change, strangely. It’s very functional, but it could be a lot better, and a lot better looking, too.

So those are my reality kitchens. My dream kitchen has a list that looks something like this:

– a casual feel (I’m not partial to dark woods and granite counter tops)
– closed floor plan
– light coloured cabinets
– white or butcher block counters
– white is my first colour choice for appliances
– counter space beside the open side of the fridge (so no french door fridge)
– farmhouse style sink under a big window
– a place for everything
– a great pantry
– lots of drawers and smaller cubbies/open shelving
– floor that is not tile or laminate wood

You may wonder why I want a closed floor plan. Most people like the open feel for when they are entertaining so they don’t have to be in a separate room, or so they can keep an eye on their kids. I like having the kitchen as a separate room because when I am entertaining, I like having the kitchen to escape to. Not because I don’t like you, just because I’m not an extrovert. Plus that way, you don’t have to keep it clean all the time! And I’m not concerned about not seeing the kids every minute.

Here are some photos I grabbed off of Better Homes and Gardens of kitchens that caught my eye:

kitchen 3

kitchen 2

kitchen 1

I love the lived-in look of these kitchens, and how bright they are. I love the idea of being able to display some dishes and things. And I love that it doesn’t feel like a show room.

What’s on your kitchen wish list?

The Utility Situation

Some of you may remember me mentioning something about our utility situation on Facebook a few weeks ago. Basically, we were under the impression that the utilities would be shared with the downstairs unit, but were surprised to find out that their rent included them. This seemed like a silly arrangement since we have control of the thermostat, so (before we knew we were to pay for everything) we were turning up the temp for them.  They were also using space heaters which is understandable because basements are cold. But we were paying the difference for their comfort.

A couple days after we discovered this, we received our first full electricity/water bill. The total was $440. Needless to say, we were quite shocked. The owner was as well, saying that when she lived here it never went over $200. Now a little of the difference would come from us doing more laundry, but we don’t do THAT much laundry! I think the space heaters downstairs are the culprit.

So our landlord, along with his daughter who owns the house but lives in Calgary, met with us and the other tenants today. After talking with both of us, we came to the agreement that they would split the utilities with us, and their rent will be lowered. So that makes us happy! Also, I think the other tenants said they bought a new, more energy efficient heater. Not quite sure how that works, but we will see when the next bill comes.

Another part of the story is they will be moving out in the New Year and another guy will move in, who apparently will only be there part time because he works out on the rigs or something.

So that’s that, and we are all happy now!

The Laundry Room

I’m a mother. I do a lot of laundry. Probably about 7 loads a week. I think about laundry rooms a lot.

In the past 5 years, I have had a few different set ups for laundry:

Mom and Dad’s: The laundry room I grew up with. Totally comfortable with it. The washer and dryer aren’t side by side, but rather across from each other. A simple twist of the body and you are able to get the wet stuff into the dryer. Also, there was a laundry sink to put random things and get them off the floor or do some pre-rinsing when necessary.

Victoria Rental #1: This house was a 100-year old suited Victorian, and all three suites had shared laundry in the basement, down some dingy outdoor steps. My apartment was on the top floor, so I had to go down my stairs, out the front door, around the back of the house, and down the back steps into the laundry room. Not ideal in wet weather, or when I go down 5 minutes before the washer is actually done. The nice thing about this set up though, was that the dryer was to the right of the washer. Dryer hinges seem to be only on the right side, so when the washer is on the left, the door opens away from the washer. Makes it easy for transport between the two.
I am glad I no longer have to go outdoors to do laundry now that I do it three times a week, rather than once every week and a half.

Victoria Rental #2: In this suburban home, we rented a basement suit that had laundry hookups on the inside, but the owner decided to build a lean-to on the outside to house the washer and dryer so it can be shared with the upstairs. This wasn’t so much of a big deal since the door was directly beside our front door so I barely needed to step outside. However the dryer was on the left so the two unit doors opened towards each other requiring a little more work to get things in and out. Also, this washer was front loading which was not fun for taking little baby things and diapers out of. So much bending over! And the dryer made a loud banging sound which was not so great since the lean-to had a window into Calvin’s room. Not ideal for nap time.

Edmonton Rental: Now this set up is a little strange. We rent the top floor of a bungalow. The laundry is downstairs in the basement in an unfinished corner. No big deal, right? Except for the fact that I have to walk through the entire basement suite (where there are other renters) . That means that somebody down there needs to be home in order for me to do laundry. It actually hasn’t turned out to be that bad. They are easy going and somebody is almost always there. But once again, the dryer is on the left. Does this bother anybody else, or am I the only one?! The nice thing about the washer, though, is that it is a top loader. So much easier! When we first moved here, the washer was super old, and you had to manually turn the water taps to change the load temperature. But then it broke down so we got a new one! Very thankful for that. This laundry room also has a laundry sink, but the washer drains into it, so you can’t really do anything in it. Once I found that my sock had come out through the hose and plugged the sink! Now I know where the missing socks are going to!

So in all my experiences, I have come up with a list of what my ideal laundry room would include:
– Side by side washer and dryer with the doors opening away from eachother (I do not have any experience with stacked laundry…anybody?)
– In my own suite!  Oh, the freedom of being able to do laundry whenever I wanted!
– in a finished room; unfinished rooms feel dirty and I don’t want to do laundry in a dirty room
– top loading washer
– a usable sink
– a folding area/place to put baskets
– a place to hang dry diapers and other items

Here are a couple of photos of good laundry room ideas (thank you, Pinterest):

(click the photo for source)

(click the photo for source)

So those are my thoughts on laundry rooms. What kind of set up works for you and preferences?



Using What I’ve Been Given

Kitchens are always the most interesting part of a house, I think. Especially in rentals. A renter can’t easily change a kitchen around to suit their needs like they can in a bathroom or bedroom by simply adding shelves or a dresser. In every house I have rented in, the kitchen has had the most things that make me go “I would change this if I owned this place”.

In this house, what I was given for a pantry was a simple 5-shelf bookshelf. When we were unpacking the kitchen boxes, we threw all the food items onto/around it. All the cupboard space was taken up with dishes, so I had just the bookshelf to work with. You can see that absolutely nothing has been organized. The Pam is neighbours with the Corn Flakes and the peanut butter is next to the Worcestershire sauce. Yum.

It took me longer than necessary to organize, but I like taking my time when tidying because I enjoy it and I don’t want it to ever end! But here is is after. One of the best kitchen inventions I have ever seen is those shelf hangy things (found at Home Outfitters) because who likes empty space above their items on a shelf? Not me! Everything needs to fit perfectly.

And that’s my pantry!

Pretty soon the rest of my house will be tidy enough to do a full house tour. Stay tuned!

Do you have any favourite pantry organizing tips?

Fixing Our Place

The photos Tim originally sent me looked like this place was in good condition, but what can you really see in an iPhone photo anyway? When I walked through our front door, I was a little disappointed. There were tons of nicks in the walls, outlet covers were broken or missing, the same with vent covers. The fridge was dirty, and under the stove was disgusting. A curtain rod was half hanging off the wall and another was done up strangely. I was not very happy. And yes, I did have a moment when it was all overwhelming and had a little cry. But I knew I would do that at some point, maybe in bed the first night, but it happened when Amy, my brother-in-law’s girlfriend handed me a house warming plant.

Thank the Lord for in-laws! Tim’s mom got right to work scrubbing out the stove and his dad made a list of everything that needed to be fixed and ran to Home Depot to pick up supplies. It took less than two days, and it feels 100% better. So much like a place I can call home. If only I could paint the walls a lighter colour.

Getting my spackle on. It’s fun!

Have you had any unexpected things when you moved somewhere new?