basement sweet

As a continuation of yesterday’s post about decorating with Dollarama, I thought I would share how I spruced up my little basement suite.

One of the main issues with basement suites (besides humidity) is lighting and ceiling height.  Aside from buying a bunch of lamps, the best way that I figured I could remedy the situation would be to hang a bunch of mirrors.  Not only do mirrors reflect light, they also make a space seem bigger (I learned all this from watching a lot of HGTV).

my entranceway

The big mirror was an amazing find at a local garage sale for $20.  It was so heavy (it’s all hardwood) that the people holding the garage sale had to drive me back to my place!  I thought that was very nice of them.  In front of it I’ve placed a vanity mirror and a little low-wattage lamp.  Notice the stack of film studies textbooks elevating the vanity mirror to my height, haha!

As you can see, I’m big on capitalizing on space.  Hence the over-the-door hook that can hold up to 4 or 5 hangers ($1 at BigLots! wut wut).  I have another one of those hooks that I use to hang my necklaces on so that they don’t get all tangled up in a drawer or jewelry box.

Another way I’ve capitalized on space are those two navy blue boxes from Ikea in the shelving unit.  I don’t have a chest of drawers, so those became my “drawers”: t-shirts/tanks in one, skirts/dresses that don’t need to be hanged in the other.  They’re fabric on the outside and vinyl on the inside, so no snagging clothes on wicker baskets (no matter how chic they may look)!  I bought them without measuring the shelves, but they fit perfectly anyway.

This is a wider shot of my desk area.  I spend most of my time here studying, eating, watching TV, eating + watching TV simultaneously, not-really-studying-but-trying-to.  Y’know.

The two mirrors above my desk are just those cheapie full-length mirrors that you can get practically from any shop that sells household items.  I purchased one from WalMart for around $10 (it was a while back), and the other one came with the apartment.  That explains why they aren’t exactly the same length.

Both the mirror frames were an off-white colour, and they didn’t match each other, so I painted them both black with the same paint I used for the picture frames.   I then screwed them into the wall, using a level.

I suppose their purpose is really to just reflect the lights in the ceiling, and also to make me feel like the wall is less empty.

pretty self-explanatory: my bed

You can see the “headboard” in relation to my bed in the above photo.

I like the long linen drapes on the windows, because it makes the room seem taller than it is.  Luckily, they came with the apartment.  However, they do a crap job of making the windows sun- & peeping Tom-proof, so I just used some dark pillowcases and thumb-tacked them into the wall around the windows.  2 pillowcases were the perfect size.  I just fold and tuck in the corner edges of the pillowcases to the top edge of itself when I want to let in the sunlight.

The desk lamp you see in the above photo was once an ugly red colour that didn’t match anything (even though it came with the apartment).  I attacked it with the white paint I used for the picture frames.

Underneath the bed, I have two rolling under-the-bed storage boxes that have all my work-out clothes, extra towels & pajamas, and big sweaters/hoodies.  My dad and I scoured Reno Depot to find a way to elevate my bed in order to fit these storage boxes underneath.  The result?  A plank of wood we found in their scrap yard that my dad sawed into 4 pieces, using a saw he bought for this purpose and then made me return.

Usually when a guest is over and they plonk down on my bed, the bed rolls off of the wood planks and scares the shit out my friends because they think they broke my bed. It’s funny.

also self-explanatory: my bathroom

When I first moved in, you would’ve gawked at how ugly and run-down my bathroom was.  The sink/vanity was once a white-marble-turned-dusty-yellow, a teeny tiny sink, and a mirror that was cracking to reveal the opaque backing.  Oh, and there was no toilet paper roll holder.

That all changed when I bought a new mirror (that I am so taking with me when I move out), and when I asked my landlord to upgrade the bathroom because the toilet had a big crack in it.  I also bought a toilet paper roll holder (also taking that with me, in case any future apartments also lack a holder).

There’s a fourth wall to the apartment that I didn’t take photos of, because it’s boring.  Imagine a standing lamp next to a wardrobe next to plastic rolling drawers.

I’ve done a lot of work to this apartment.  I’ll be sad if I have to leave because of one inconsiderate neighbour.  But what can I do?  I can’t live with second-hand smoke.


dollarama can transform any space

When I first moved into my basement suite, it was pretty bland and badly decorated.  So what’s the automatic response?


With only a few items and some effort, you can make some great design details (ugh, I hate that I just wrote that) very inexpensively.

Things you need:

  • picture frames in different sizes and textures
  • acrylic paint + paint brushes
  • permanent markers
  • printed graphics (I just looked online)
  • old photos or postcards
  • patience

my "headboard"

These postcards remind me of my various trips to Europe.   Balancing these postcards on the picture frames was a little precarious, but I decided not to attach any adhesives so as to not ruin the postcards.  Anyway, it leaves some freedom to move them around.

these coat hooks have a groove on the top to place photos & items like these above it (it's from ikea, duh)

my desk

So what’s a girl to do with all the glass that you get when you use empty picture frames?  Scribble ’em in with Sharpies!  I found various graphics and prints online, printed them out, and traced them onto the glass with a black Sharpie.  My favourite is the chandelier.  Surprisingly, one of the easiest of all the different graphics I drew out.

I’m also super excited about the fake hydrangeas in the pretty wine bottle.  I swear I didn’t drink that thing on my own.  Maybe just a little.

bean & tofu salad (it sounds gross but it’s so yumz)

I’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian food recently.  Not because I’m interested in vegatarianism as a lifestyle and moral choice, but it’s just a lot cheaper to order a veggie curry v. meat/seafood curry at my favourite Thai restaurant.  I know.  I am so fiscally responsible (tell that to the brand new dress/boots/bag/jacket I just bought).

Anyway, I recently bought a can of beans (the exact variety and brand in the photo), thinking I’d have a use for them one day.  This is all a part of my new adventures in the culinary arts, btw.  So in lieu of my newfound so-called vegetarianism, I decided to use up the last of some tofu I had in my fridge and make a bean & tofu salad.

Et, voilà.

A colourful, delectable and filling dish.  I ate a bowl of this for dinner with some 12 grain toast.


  • 1 can of mixed beans
  • 1 coarsely chopped medium-sized bell pepper (any colour is fine)
  • 1 quarter of a small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup of firm tofu, diced into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Drain the bean-y water from the can, then rinse and drain the beans in fresh water.  Let dry.
  • Chop up all your ingredients
  • Heat a pan to medium-high with a dash of olive oil
  • Toss in your diced tofu cubes and lightly fry until golden brown on all sides (doesn’t have to be perfectly even) *Side note: if you don’t like raw garlic, I suggest throwing in the minced garlic in the pan to make it nice and toasty
  • In a mixing bowl, throw in all veggies and tofu
  • Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top
  • Carefully mix all ingredients together, making sure not to mush up all the beans
  • Serve right away, or refrigerate and eat later

I’ve got so much dang fibre in me now. Who needs Fibre1 bars?