Author Archives: Julia Dilworth

Tuesday, May 31 2016

Spotted: Glam. Gold. Balloon DIY.

A photo posted by Veronica Halim (@truffypi) on


Often DIY projects come along and I’m like, “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?” A similar phenomenon occurs with sightings of abstract art pieces that strike my fancy: I snap a pic and think I can replicate it for under $50 and have it up on my walls by the weekend. Oh yeah, that works out 100% of the time.

The results of doing something yourself aren’t always going to be display-worthy (I was less than heartbroken when I left my mini Jackson Pollock at an old apartment, for example) and that’s why I love this project I spied on @truffypi‘s Instagram this past weekend.

Yes, it’s working with metallic foil which is A MENACE, and the finickiest sticks-to-itself-and-everything-but-what-you-want-it-to substance, but getting a gold foil smear on a balloon? BABIES could do this (baby shower idea? hellooo) with the finished product looking nothing short of Lady Gaga-BDay, drop-dead fabulous. PLUS there are so many options. You could also do rose gold (heart eyes emoji) on white balloons for a wedding, or gold on mint, silver on navy—all great ideas you can put into production trying to use up the rest of your Martha Stewart foil transfer packet.

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Martha Stewart Crafts Foil Transfer Sheets from Michaels (in copper, gold, silver). Could not get a decent photo of these to save my life.

Sunday, May 29 2016

The Office Chair That Got Away

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Alt headline: Ode to An Office Chair

Alt alt headline: How West Elm Stole My Heart and Crushed My Dreams in One Google Search

It’s sort of a hazard of the job that you regularly fall in love with beautiful pieces of furniture.

This particular mid-century modern Saddle office chair from West Elm (on the left) has been popping up in designer homes everywhere for the past year (I spied it most recently in an adorable office from Shift Interiors that we featured on Western Living), so I’m not the only one who’s been harbouring a crush.

I suppose I enjoy it so much because it’s in the Eames-ian mid-century modern molded form with splayed out A-line legs (in mid-tone wood no less), but the stripes give it a contemporary twist—which are so palette-perfect in white on smokey grey.

I don’t remember falling for a piece of furniture like this before (especially one that I’ve never sat on) and it’s only now that I’ve decided I’m going to buy it (price be damned, available space in apartment be damned!) that I’ve discovered it’s not for sale. The cold words “No Longer Available” sit on its page just now and mock all of us who are so very late to the party.

Whereas everything else in my East Van abode was given to me or purchased with an immediate need on a minimal budget, this was going to be my first foray into curating a space filled with objects I love that represent me personally. I’m not totally defeated yet, there’s always ebay and maybe some special designer craigslist I’ve yet to discover on the Interwebs, but the moral of the story is: if you love it, don’t hesitate, or you’ll be left writing about its tragic loss on your blog.

Friday, May 27 2016

Weekly Download: Travel Inspiration

Pinterest and Instagram need to fuse into one. Looking through my photo gallery on my phone it’s just a series of screenshots I’ve snapped while trolling insta—everything from places I want to visit, to insane homes across the world, to interior design I love love.

As this is all filling up the old iCloud (just had to open the wallet for a storage upgrade, only a few months in) I thought I’d consolidate my inspirational finds into one place.

Let’s start with travel.

 

 

Really posted too much text in that caption, but I guess that’s useful info for later. I saw this and couldn’t believe it was in ENGLAND. It looks like an ocean view you’d find in Spain. Or Florida. Or the Hamptons (I imagine). Anyway, saving this for my next trip to the UK (maybe I can find it on AirBnb?)

 

 

I met this travel TV show host in Winnipeg back in 2014, he (Rico?) and this (I think) Brazilian lady (another travel writer I’ll mention next) were (I think) friends and they were nice enough to make conversation with me, the awkward stranger on my own in the hotel’s guest floor dinette (I was hiding there fuelling up between awkward tourism appointments, my first big assignment as a tourism communications specialist). Anyway, totally lovely guy and I started following his Instagram as he travels all over the world and takes crazy photos I’m still not sure are his. Regardless, wherever this weavy, river cliff path is, I want to check it out. (Translated it seems to be Lake Brienz in Switzerland.)

 

Bondi↔ Coogee trail: que delícia percorrer de novo esse walkway lindo!

A photo posted by Mari Campos (@maricampos) on

 

Thought this was a—to get a bit Australian—gnarly photo of the Bondi to Coogee Coast Walk. Follow Mari on Instagram at @maricampos, she is ALWAYS on the road. Lucky Brazilian.

 

Okay Alys Beach, you win. 😍

A photo posted by loom goods (@loomgoods) on

 

I have got to get my butt to Florida. I was charmed by this charming, white house, but the photo of the sandy beaches and post-card-perfect, crystal clear blue-green water she posted next to it in her feed just made my heart hurt with jealous travel pangs!

 

Photo by @zahiracury / D.Signers in #Barcelona Batlló House by Antoni #Gaudi 💛 #d_signers

A photo posted by Architecture & Design (@d.signers) on

 

So the @d.signers feed on insta is filled with gaspy shots of stunning homes with crazy views and multi-million-dollar architecture, but I saw this snap from Barcelona and got really excited because I’ve actually been in this building, Casa Batllo. It’s probably the most surreal structure I’ve ever seen with my own eyes—it’s like Alice in Wonderland meets the world of Dr. Seuss. And Antoni Gaudi designed it back in 1904/1905! There aren’t any square structures, lines or window frames and there’s this middle courtyard part that opens up to the sky where he’s put a blue ombre on the walls. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. I really want to go back and check out the big church he did that was under construction while we were visiting.

 

 

Speaking of, here’s another from @d.signers. Tree hotel?! We need these in Canada, obviously. Need to find out what it looks like inside… UPDATE: I found a link to the whole project here and I’m disappointed to see that inside it looks like a simple plywood box. Minimal and Scandinavian-cool yes, but I would have loved there to be bigger windows so you could get more of that I’m-in-the-forest-canopy type of feeling.

 

The kind of house where I would hide to read and think. Spotted on @elegantlife. Follow my friend for more inspiration! Project: Till House Design by WRM Arquitectos The location is a coastline of cliffs, 10 kilometers long and 200 metres high where buildings have never existed. People from this zone have always harvested “cochayuyo” (Chilean seaweed) and seafood. Access to the beach is made by difficult paths which take a long time to go. The house is located on a special point of the #cliff. There are fractions to the west, east and north of the house, generating a island situation. The house was projected in a 3,2 meters x 3,2 meters wooden modules where all the skeleton (beans and columns) are visible. The whole skeleton is impregnated with carbolineum (black color) and the cladding of the walls in dark brown. The interiors were worked with white walls and ceilings. The floor is made of wood. The construction was considered in a simple way, only with local wood and labor. Follow @designwanted [+78k] to see the most wanted design on Instagram!

A photo posted by Design Wanted ™ (@designwanted) on

 

They’ve got the right idea over there in Chile. Again, call it a long shot, but I’m going to search for this one on AirBnb when the time comes.

Monday, May 23 2016

So We Bought a Pre-Sale Condo in East Van

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There’s a lot of talk right now about the fiery-hot, speculative, under-siege housing market in Vancouver, and for the first time in my life I’ve got skin in the game.

Last summer I had the overwhelming urge to buy an apartment, and after finding an agent and looking at three old apartments and one insanely-tiny new apartment (it had one storage spot in the entire “townhouse” and that was a shelf in the one closet in the one bedroom—not even an entryway closet for coats!) my Realtor recommended going pre-sale (buying on spec and hoping like hell you’ll like it) and we found a two-bedroom plus den. It had no presentation centre (“we’re passing on those savings to you, the homebuyer”) and one main rendering available for all floorplans to show what kind of condo to expect.

One of the older, totally lovely, apartments I had my heart set on (but no in-suite laundry, bike room or office space).

One of the older, totally lovely, apartments I had my heart set on (but no in-suite laundry, bike room or office space).

Advantages to buying pre-sale:

  1. Price. Because it’s not built yet, pre-sale condos are typically cheaper than what’s currently on the market. For example, in our price range there were a ton of ’70s-’90s one-bedroom apartments, but none right in our desired area of Mount Pleasant (damn that Bob Rennie calling Main and Broadway the new centre of town!). Anything that was affordable was, in a word, “risky.” Candidates for rain-screening, old places with wall-damaging saunas and decades of smoke in the halls, and who knows what other disasters lurking beyond an inspection and strata minutes. For a first-time homebuyer, I can’t afford to buy a place that’s about to be re-assessed for repairs up the you-know-what and tack on thousands of dollars to my mortgage. This brings me to advantage #2.
  2. Warranty. If you buy a new home, it has three different types of warranties on it, including a 10-year structural. I saw this one renovated place on Ontario and 14th, PRIME location, with this gorgeous big party-perfect patio right off the living room, but it was in a building that was old AF with single-pane windows, water-damaged paint on the outside and dank, ’70s carpets inside. Sans bike room tenants reportedly house bikes in their parking spot in front of their cars. Plus it smelled like smoke everywhere in the building. My aunt took one look at my hopeful “we’ll take it!” face and said it was an absolute dud that would cost me tons in future repairs. Note: When shopping for your future home and looking to make the largest financial investment of your life, it’s good to have one of these no-nonsense realists at your side.
  3. New new new NEW! I’ve never owned, I’ve always rented, and I’ve rented the oldest, most questionable, least street-legal spots in all of Vancouver, so to be in a place with pristine tiles and ledges that have never seen a spec of dust (let alone decades of renter neglect) is an absolute dream. Side story: I once rented a bachelor suite on Bute and Davie that was in this 100-year-old hotel (the yellow building by the dog park, movies have been filmed there and everything!). At first I was taken in by its old-timey charm, but there was a hole in my ceiling that used to POUR bathwater from the apartment’s shower above. I shudder to think of the black mold in that place. Happy my brother and I (both willing occupants for multiple years) got out alive.
  4. Make Money-Money. Buying something you can’t see is terrifying, but even in the few months my new condo building was open for sales, the prices went up 10%. So even if we hate our new place (fingers crossed not) we could always sell it and make a profit. Barring a tsunami, mega earthquake or the bottom falling out of the Vancouver housing market because of newly imposed restrictions on foreign ownership.
  5. New-Place Extras. Most of the old apartments in Mount Pleasant/East Van/Fraserview don’t come with in-suite laundry, nor do they have the space/strata say-so to put one in. A lot don’t have a dishwasher either. I currently live without both and struggle every day. Our new place HAS BOTH and will also have a patio (!!!!). It’s 3-feet deep, but STILL. Forgot to mention new place also has a bike room, so we no longer have to store our wheels in the apartment.
  6. Pet-friendly. I’m not sure if this is with all new builds, but no matter what our future strata decides in terms of rules, we’re allowed one dog (no size restriction) and one cat! The people we sell it to will inherit those same perks too, which is a good selling point. We’re also able to rent our place, regardless of strata bylaws, so it could always be an income property should we turn into mad housing ballers.
Goodbye communal laundry!!! Photo By Reni Fajarwati (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Goodbye communal laundry!!! Photo By Reni Fajarwati (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There are of course disadvantages to going pre-sale.

I have looked at so many apartments online that seem great, and then you look closer at the photos and you’re like, “Why did they put that pole there?” “Why is there a solarium between the living room and the view?” “Who thought that triangle-shaped rooms were a good idea?” I wouldn’t buy a new dress without seeing it first, so in that respect spending $300K on a pre-sale home is effing insane.

  1. Time. Time is money, and the minimum wait for a pre-sale is around two years. Construction typically won’t start until they’ve sold out or mostly sold all the units and it can also be held up for ridiculous unforeseen reasons. Breaking ground was delayed on our place for eight or nine months because of a hydro pole the city wouldn’t take down. Instead of moving in later this year, we’re looking late spring 2017.
  2. GST. For some reason, you have to pay 5% GST when you buy a new home. This sort of takes the edge off the savings you get from buying pre-sale in the first place, as it can be like $20,000. First-time homebuyers get some money back, but it’s like $750. What’s that pay for? A notary appointment? Half a rug?
  3. Fluctuating Specs. I was alarmed to hear from my Realtor that things aren’t built exactly to the floorplan. They can swap subway tiles for penny tiles based on availability, they can put in a sliding door instead of a swinging one and they can SHORT YOUR SQUARE FOOTAGE. Step into my nightmare for a minute: our new apartment’s living room is just under 10-feet wide. TINY. How can it be cool for them to build my condo and short me even a foot? Two feet? An actual shoebox. I would be able to lie down end-to-end and touch the walls. Realtor says it could go the other way, and actually get bigger. Ha! Snowball’s chance in hell.

The delay in time has also given me much more time to stress about whether or not we made the right decision, so to quell some of my fears, I thought I’d mock-up a virtual model. That post coming soon!

Saturday, May 21 2016

MAY 2016 Music Playlist

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Every year or so I manage to steal away enough time to sit down and extract all my Shazams for one #nowplaying playlist. Today is that day! Also, I’ve made a lil feature photo from one of my favourite possessions: The Pattern Box! I found it at Pottery Barn last year and just recently had time to go through it. It’s a collection of postcards with designs on them made by female creatives in textiles, painting etc. and it is bursting will cool patterns, prints and designs, like this floral from Helen Dealtry.

Without further ado, the latest music mix I’m going to have to find space for on my iPhone:

Saturday, May 21 2016

The KonMari Method (1 Month Later)

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When I was in Tofino for a work trip back in April, I picked up this little number at a local bookshop. I had heard my co-worker talking about this best-selling “tidying” book before and the moment I held Marie Kondo‘s work in my hands—and this is so appropriate, as anyone who’s read it will know—I felt a zing 0_0. I had to have it! I sensed strongly, as I have with so many new book purchases, that it was going to substantially change my life.

The thing is, I have a history with clutter and holding on to every last thing I’ve ever owned.

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Came home to find this “love letter” from my boyfriend. He’s such a saint to put up with my ways!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up basically says, if you love it (does it “spark joy?”), keep it. If you don’t, say goodbye. This yardstick is so simple and yet I’ve battled with holding on to crap I don’t like (just in case it someday proves useful) my entire life. She recommends holding every single last item in your hands to help you decide (which takes a bit of time). To do the whole method, which brings you in stages from clothing to books to misc. to papers to mementos took me a whole week off work, and I didn’t even start the photo/memento stage (maybe next year).

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The book says to pile all your clothes (every last item!) in one spot and go through it piece by piece assessing for joy.

I LOVED the section on folding where you get to put all your remaining clothes away. The closet you arrange from left-to-right darkest to lightest (this actually makes a difference) and Kondo even has a special technique for folding dresser drawer items so they’re all easily visible.

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You’re supposed to fold them so everything is standing up. It looks tedious, but once you do it, it’s done and when I’m feeling too lazy to fold things properly, I dump them on top and then there’s only a couple shirts/pants out of place and I fold ’em when I have time.

The Result: It really is amazing when the only clothes in your closet are your absolute favourites—same goes with books on your bookshelf and the decor in your house. I needed to go shopping right after, because I had chucked 90% of my office-appropriate attire, but an excuse to frequent 8th and Main is hardly a downside. It’s a month later and the years of journalism clippings/school assignments/craft supplies I got rid of haven’t weighed on me in the slightest, and my overall home is feeling lighter and brighter. Just need to get these five garbage bags of clothes out to a Big Brothers donation bin and I’ll be laughing (and back in boyfriend’s good graces).

I found this video really helpful when it came to folding (which is hard to describe in a book):