My First Home

In January of last year, when I was still working in real estate, I started seriously looking for an apartment as an investment property for my parents. The initial goal for my first home was to find one in Queen West (my favourite neighbourhood), but that very quickly revealed itself to be way out of our price range.

My mom told me that I should look for an older apartment that we could renovate. I very clearly remember scoffing at her and telling her that we weren’t going to find anything like that.

I’ve never been happier about being wrong in my life.

After some tough negotiations, my amazing agent and friend, Natasha, scored us a 350 square foot bachelor apartment in Cabbagetown for an amazing price. The layout was fantastic, it had a huge balcony, SO MUCH LIGHT, and tons of storage space. However, it needed a lot of work.

We bought it furnished, with the tenants occupying the unit until the end of October. Given that it was just the beginning of May, that meant that I had ample time to save up money for the renovations. But, maybe more importantly, SHOP for all the items that I was going to furnish and decorate my apartment with.

Here are just a few sneak peeks of the “before” when the apartment was tenanted:

I honestly can’t believe how small it looks with all the clunky furniture and that terrible dingy wall colour. It definitely felt like a small space back then, but I think now it feels a lot bigger than it is. I can’t thank my mirrored closet doors enough for that!

This is the first place that I’ve ever lived that feels like everything was very intentional. I no longer have a couch that I used out of necessity because I couldn’t afford a new one, or clunky dilapidated furniture, or mismatched tableware that was left over from my poor student days.

I saved up a ton of money and took an immense amount of care in selecting everything that came into my home. I worked within a budget and tried to not be too extravagant in my purchases. There was also a lot of DIY involved along the way, of course.

I did countless hours of research and hand picked things that I loved.

The goal was to stay within a very neutral palette and add a little bit of soft feminine colours with a lot of texture. And WAY too many plants.

But, before I could get to all the pretty decorating, there was a ton of renovation work to be done:

  • The floors were parquet, so those needed to be ripped out and replaced.
  • The entire apartment was a terrible, sad, boring brown colour, so it would have to be painted.
  • The ceiling was popcorn and I wanted it removed.
  • The entire bathroom needed to be torn out and replaced (aside from the tub and toilet)
  • The closets were full of shelving which needed to be torn out and great pains were taken to patch all of the holes
  • The balcony needed to be painted
  • I wanted to replace the kitchen counters and backsplash

My dad is a contractor, so he did a lot of the work and helped me fix absolutely everything, and for that, I am forever grateful. I couldn’t have done it without him and I’m so incredibly lucky that he put up with all of my demands - and there were a lot of them.

Pinterest was an invaluable tool to me when I was designing my space, so I wanted to share some of the inspiration images from when I was designing my apartment. My dwelling board can be found here for even more inspiration images and a lot of the products that I used in the space.

I wanted the space to be very bright and white. I used grey and small amounts of black and olive green as contrast and a lot of the accents are gold, aside from the bathroom which I kept chrome. I’ve always loved mid century modern design, so I have a lot of those accents and a ton of plants to add life to the space. Looking back on these images now, I’m very proud to say that my current space is definitely a reflection of what I’ve pinned!

Sources: 1/2/3/4/5/6

The only big project that’s left are the kitchen counters and backsplash as well as the balcony - but the balcony can wait until it’s a bit warmer outside.

I’m on the other side of most of the renovations now and am almost ready to start sharing photos of the space. I absolutely love everything about my home and for the first time ever actually feel completely at home in an apartment. Everything feels like me and I love that I’m no longer renting and was able to completely customize the space.

Big reveals will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

xo, tess.

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