Fireplace Facelift: A Rental Friendly 'Marble' Makeover

One of the things that I knew I wanted to change in my rental was the yellow tile surrounding my fireplace. I'll admit that once I moved in, the yellow tiles grew on me. They were more charming than I originally guessed, but I still felt that they weren't in keeping with my overall style and vision for the space. A couple of them were also cracked. (And yes, the ceiling fan is another thing I'd like to change!)

The tricky thing is that this is a rental unit, so I have to be realistic about what I can change and what I have to live with. I want to retile my kitchen backsplash eventually, so I'm saving the 'ask the landlord' question for that. Furthermore, I wanted marble and I know that it's not in the budget, and investing a lot of money into a rental doesn't make sense for me.

What I really needed was a rental friendly, non-permanent, easy, no-hassle, and inexpensive solution.
And that's when it donned on me, what about something I can peel and stick? So that's exactly what I did! I ordered up this amazing contact paper from my friends over at Design Your Wall, and went to work. A quick note about this contact paper. It is SO thick and durable, some of the tiles I had to unpeel and restick over ten times to get it just right, and the paper didn't rip, crinkle, or lose its stick. It really feels almost more like vinyl than paper. It is even wipeable! The pattern is also extremely realistic. 

The contact paper comes with a great grid on the back, so it makes it really easy to cut straight lines.

Next, just peel and stick! (and swear and get frustrated and almost give up). I'll be honest, I found this part difficult because part of my tiles are in behind the copper insert, so to peel and stick while getting it in behind there was very tricky. Thank goodness I could peel up and restick so many times!
I used the small triangle to help smooth out any air bubbles as I went. You should also make sure that your tiles are clean and dry before sticking.

I used the utility knife to reveal grout the small grout lines if the paper was covering it.

And voila! I can't believe how great this project turned out. I still need to add some caulking around the perimeter just to hide some of the pre-existing gaps, but I am loving the transformation! This really was the perfect solution! I don't think you can tell that it is paper at all unless you get really close. A big thank you to Design Your Wall for such an amazing product!

Now I'm thinking about what else I can marble-ize!

Sophisticated Styling: A Narrow Mantle

Today I'm sharing a seldom seen area of my living situation. I've mentioned before that I live in a student building where I have my own studio-style apartment, complete with living room/bedroom area, large walk in closet, and my own bathroom. My kitchen accommodations, however, are shared with the five other girls living in my building. Beside the kitchen, there is also a small community TV area. 
I was inspired by the mantle (on the non-working fireplace) down there the other day and decided to give it a quick makeover using found items from my apartment. Before, it was covered in junk mail and strange odds and ends such as batteries and a spool of thread. 
It's amazing what a ten minutes of styling can do!

The tricky part about styling a narrow mantle is that you only have a few inches of depth to make it count. This eliminates the possibility of any big, sculptural pieces. Instead, I've chosen to layer leaning art for easy switch-out in an asymmetrical layout to break up the formality of the more traditional fireplace. All of the art pieces used are my original paintings. I've added one small, interestingly shaped vase to the vignette to add some 3 dimensionality and a curvilinear form, and threw a couple decorative match boxes to complete the vignette with a 'lived-in' atmosphere.

Is there an area in your house that could use a little extra styling love?


Old Parquet - Yay or nay?

One thing that I love to do in my spare time is apartment hunt online. Is that weird since I have no immediate plans of moving?....Probably.
Hopefully by next summer I will be getting a new rental (with my very own kitchen that I don't have to share with five other girls), and I love seeing what my predicted budget will get me. Most of the apartments I'm drawn to (and can afford) have one thing in common....old, square parquet flooring. If you had shown me this a few years ago, I would have cringed, but now, I don't mind it at all! I actually kind of like it. Think about the craftsmanship and time to install that! There is something kind of charming about it and miles better than the laminate I have in my current rental.
via Lonny Mag May/June 2011
Michelle Adams via Decor8
Michelle Adams via Decor8
Elle Decor UK via Lee Stanton Blog

So what do you think? Has parquet flooring come back into style? Or do you still consider it outdated?

Rental Dilemmas: My Basic Beige Bathroom

There is a part of my apartment that you all haven't seen much of, and that's my bathroom.
Functionally, my bathroom is perfect. Firstly, it's giant. It's got a large soaker tub, a huge shower, and a decent sized vanity. There is also a large window so I have ample natural light. The layout is also ideal, and the fact that I don't have to share it is pure bliss. needs a bit of work. There is nothing really wrong with the way it looks. It's fine. My instinct as a designer is to replace all the tile with something fabulous and paint the vanity blackt, but let's face it, this is a rental and the fixed elements are not changing. Not only would my landlord say no, it also doesn't make sense for me from a financial perspective. But, I am thinking I could spruce it up for around $100.

Take a look at its current state:
^ Call me crazy but I actually kind of like the light fixture. I know it's super outdated, but it reminds me of an old Hollywood starlet dressing room. Things I don't love (but cannot change), are the  plain mirror, the counter top, faucet, light oak vanity colour, and the boring beige tile pretty much everything.
^ I do like the toilet. It's fairly small and nice looking. 
^ I love my tub and the big window. Again, the tile is not my favourite but atleast it's neutral.
^The view of my shower.
I also currently have pinky corally bath towels hanging on the wall opposite my vanity:

I'm thinking it needs a few minor tweaks to make it look a bit more cohesive, and a lot more styled.
Even though it's perfectly clean and tidy, it looks kind of hodge podge and cluttered to me.

I saw a small graphic black and white rug at The Home Depot that I am considering to replace the boring brown one I currently have. I put my black and white pillow down to get an idea of how it would look, and I'm liking the contrast:
I also think that the black and white help to make the fixed elements feel more 'goldy', which I like.

I also know that I can't change the mirror, but lately I've been seeing a lot of 'mirror on mirror' in bathrooms.... I wonder if there is a way I could put my octagonal mirror on top of this one in a non-permanent way....

Lastly, I'd add some chic accessories, and paint and hang a couple of abstract black and white paintings. I did a quick twenty minute brainstorming sketch:
What do you guys think?

New Lease: Planning the Layout

If you all saw yesterday's post, you know that today, I'm continuing to discuss my new rental!
Here are a few more details:
I move in in September.
I'm sharing a house with five other girls (none of whom I know yet!). We have a common living room, kitchen, dining area, laundry facility and backyard. While I'm sure I'll get along with everyone, I also like my personal space (and I'm not sure they will share my love of watching HGTV 24/7). That's why I'm happy that my room is big enough to create a studio style space that will include my bed area, office area, and own personal living room area.
Last night, I whipped up this floor plan quickly to track my ideas so far:
What do you guys think of this layout? Stay tuned because tomorrow, I'm going to show you my fabric scheme options!
xox Tiffany Leigh
ps. If you need help mapping out a floor plan, send me an e-mail at I'd be happy to help!

Big News: Signed a Lease

Besides my first year at university which I spent living in campus residence, I have lived in the same house since I was born. It has been a blessing which has allowed me to save money, avoid student debt, and not have to worry too much about daily tasks such as cooking and grocery shopping.

Pursuing my dream career in the big city, however, means big changes. I've been on the hunt for some affordable housing in Toronto close to my design school for the fall. Recognizing that my own apartment was not realistic financially, I settled on student housing. All I wanted was my own washroom. 

I may have gone slightly over my planned monthly budget (oopsy), but I've found the perfect room!
The room is 12' by 19'. Lots of room for all of my design ideas!
This picture doesn't do it justice, but this is my extra large WALK IN CLOSET, maybe big enough for my very own dressing room.
Here is the huge shower in my private washroom!
And my big soaker tub! I love bubble baths after a long day.

I can't paint the walls or change any of the fixed elements, but I think it's a good blank and neutral canvas to create a space that is completely me. Stay tuned each day this week where I discuss my design ideas for the different areas of the room!
Tiffany Leigh
ps. I feel so grown up! Ah! Tell me about YOUR first rental.
All photos sent to me by my future landlord. Better quality pics to come when I move in and redecorate.