Two years ago I moved to downtown Toronto into my little apartment. The guy who lived there before me was a bachelor who was rarely ever home, and never did any work on it. My landlord wouldn’t paint, so I had to find ways to transform the space without using a brush, and on a just-out-of-university budget. I really wanted a space that was cozy and inviting, without feeling too cramped in the small space.

Here is what it look like before I moved in:

And here is what it looked like afterward:

Because I was moving in during February, I took advantage of the houseware sales that popped up after Christmas. The couch is actually a wood frame futon with a raspberry red microsuede cover that I picked up from The Bedroom and Futon Store for $300 during their post-Christmas sale a couple of years ago. I LOVE this couch. Not only is it comfy, its also really easy to clean. I can use a stick roller to pick up crumbs or dog hair, or if its really bad (hello, double chocolate chunk ice cream) I just pop the cover in the wash, and presto, new couch! And it converts to a double bed when I have guests (the linens are stored in a bin underneath)

The LACK coffee table was $30 at IKEA, and I put two $8 black wicker baskets from Walmart underneath to store magazines, remotes and whatever craft projects I am working on. The brushed nickel floor lamp was $15 at Canadian Tire (I liked it so much, I bought another for the office), and the matching reading lamp by the couch was $18 at IKEA.

This shelving unit was a 15 year old Ikea shelf from my parents basement, that I cut the lowest shelf off to make it fit with the angled ceiling. The picture hanging above is a New York City print that I fell in love with from IKEA for $13. The storage boxes and magazine holders are from the IKEA KASSETT series, and hold everything from CDs to recipe cards. The plants were actually given to me in one pot, which I split and put into two bronze metallic containers from a local dollar store. Front and center is my prized Maltese Falcon  which you may recognize from when I dressed it up for Fall, here).
 I love to organize my books by colour. It really makes the shelf stand out and adds some fun colour to the room. I did this two years ago on a whim one Tuesday night, and since then I’ve seen it in tons of magazines. Try it out with your own books, doing a rainbow effect like I have here, or even doing one colour per shelf.
This throw was on clearance at Fabricland for $30 and is Whiskey’s favorite thing to cuddle with. I’ll often come in to see that he has pulled it down and burrowed in it. The black cushions are $6 GRANAT cushions from IKEA and the printed leaf cushions were from Canadian Super Store for $10 each.
This is what the other side of the living room looked like before I moved in:
And this is after I turned it into my mini office. This MIKAEL desk was on sale for $40 from IKEA, and I put it together without adding the keyboard tray (it hit my knees). The chair has a black base, with cream faux leather and is one of two that I picked up at Liquidation World for $30 each.
I love my iMac, and use it for blogging, editing films and of course catching up on TV (Oh look, its Dexter!). I purchased the wireless mouse and keyboard, because I love that I don’t have to fight with tangled up cords, and can just tuck everything away when I need to. The little set of black and white paisley drawers from Michaels were only $12 and holds all my chargers, notepads and memory sticks. Behind the screen I keep my two external hard drives stored, as well as a pencil cup, so that everything is out of sight.

This is the wall across from the couch, and I have just started to play around with what to do in this area. The door on the right in my front door, and on the left is the bathroom. The big mirror was actually given to me by a friend moving, and the carvings on the top are broken in a few spots, so I am getting a local carver to help me mend this beautiful antique.The little electric stove below is a recent cold-weather purchase. In the evening, the apartment can get quite chilly, so its nice to be able to bring a little heat in with this tiny stove, and it was only $70 at Canadian Tire, so how was I to resist?

Here is a breakdown of what I spent to set up my little living room from scratch:

Couch – $300
Floor Lamp – $15
Reading Lamp – $15
Shelf – Free
Storage Boxes – $53
Maltese Falcon – Free
Plant pots – $1 x 2
NYC art –  $13
Printed Cushions – $10 x 2
Black Cushion – $6 x 2
Throw – $30
Coffee Table –  $30
Wicker Baskets – $8 x 2
Desk – $40
Chair – $30
Paisley Shelves – $12
Fireplace – $70

TOTAL: $658

Not too bad for a little space like this where I can easily entertain guests, or just curl up and watch a movie. I was careful to pick pieces that can be used again in the future. The futon, shelves, coffee table and desk are simple designs that can fit easily into most decor. I have also thought about recovering the chair, and making new pillow and futon covers when I’m ready for a change.

I’ll be sure to post more pictures soon on the rest of my little home, and let me know what you think!

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2 thoughts on “Living Room Before & After

  1. Sheila

    New to your blog and know this was posted awhile ago but what a nice job you did on a tiny space and a tiny budget. Do you know the expression cheap and cheerful? This is an excellent example. Looks great for less than $700 in total!


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