August Rush

I wish this blog post had the same budget as that movie! Alas, this is not a feel-good Hollywood drama.

However, this post is supposed to make me feel good by reminding me of all the progress we’ve made on our home despite the financial setbacks. Bring on the Hollywood ending!

It did feel really good to open up here and be honest about the job snafu and all the trials that come with expat-riatism (should be a word!), so I will definitely be doing that more. I hope that writing about my experience will make some new expat feel better by knowing she is not the only one struggling with immigration issues.

Anyway, you want to know what never fails to turn my sad face upside down? This happy one:

Our kitten Ludovico

Yes, that’s an updated picture of our little fuzzball Ludovico. He’s made such an impact on our lives already — I actually okayed a scratching post the other day saying “I guess that doesn’t look so bad.” If you want to see A LOT (okay, too many) pictures of Ludo, I post them on my Instagram almost daily. You should follow me!

Ludovico was a big change for us, but a lot of the updates we made  this month were small, affordable ones like adding some hooks and hardware in our toilet and bathroom, thrifting some kitchen necessities, and splurging (well, as much as broke people can splurge!) on a designer clock.

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

I didn’t blog about this, but it bears mentioning that you can make a stuck-to-the-wall toilet paper roll holder much prettier by running some acrylic caulk around the edge and smoothing it out with a paper towel, like so:

Ikea Grundtal toilet paper roll holder

See? No more gross see-through holes!

We did make a couple of big changes this month. They were just ridiculously cheap! We added a bunch of hand-me-down furniture to our living room.

Living room

And ain’t nothing wrong with this discounted Pax wardrobe:

Ikea As-Is Pax wardrobe

Well, that is, until we broke it.

Ikea broken Pax wardrobe

Womp womp. That’s okay. “We can rebuild him…we have the technology.” More on that later.

This month, we also added a thrifted chandelier to our living room, lovingly spray painted white, the rainbow’s most forgiving color.

Thrifted chandelier spray painted white

Funny story, I am in the process of repainting it. Yes! It’s true! Maybe this month has been a wash.

Ah well, at least we got some relaxing in before the summer ended.

Bosbad Amersfoort

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The little things

I love how just a few tiny changes can really make a room work more for you.

Before we left for vacation on Friday we made a few small updates to the bathroom and powder room. You might remember the problem in the powder room and my dilemma with whether we should use a standing toilet paper holder or one stuck on the wall. Well, we decided that the floor space in the powder room was too precious to squander on the toilet paper. So the hunt was on for an inexpensive hanging teepee holder and a way to hang it on tile.

What we found was the Ikea Grundtal and a product at the Gamma called Hang On.

The process to mix the glue solution was fairly straightforward, though I would warn anyone who wants to try this that there was a LOT of dried up solution in the little baggy you can see in the middle of the picture above. Once we figured that out and removed it, though, it was easy peasy. Just wipe the surfaces with the little cloth on the right. Then stir the solution you see on the wooden stick, mix it with the stuff in the little pouch and apply it to the thing you want to hang.

You can kinda see some of the sticky stuff in the picture above, but the package explains that it can easily be scratched off with a razor. I’m not worrying about it because we are planning to caulk around the holder so it has a more seamless edge. I can’t vouch for how easily this stuff comes off yet, but the package assures us that it shouldn’t be too hard.

Such a difference just a little piece of hardware makes. I don’t think I’ve ever given so much thought to my toilet paper holder, but it really does make life a little easier.

For the last little trick we pulled, I will ask you to look at the two pictures below and tell me if you notice a difference:

Of course you can see right away the little towel hooks we added to the wall next to our shower. The towel heater we have in our bathroom is by the door, but our shower is all the way across the room — so it’s a very chilly walk after your nice warm shower. These little babies were just a couple euros at the Gamma, but they have made a huge difference when it comes to comfort.

It’s also helped me to realize that not every update has to be huge. Even the little things feel like a big change when they make you happier in your home.


Here comes the sun

Well, not really since it’s raining yet again. But! We do have two new light fixtures installed in the apartment. Three if you count the vanity light we “borrowed” from Rolan’s grandfather’s house.

We picked the Ikea Fuga spotlight flushmount for our kitchen light fixture because the kitchen is kind of a square with a lot of corners that need light. We didn’t want a drop pendant hanging down here getting in the way, so a flush mount fixture it was.

Maybe someday we will have some track lighting drop pendants hanging over the countertops instead, but this works really well for now and we can’t resist an affordable modern glass and steel fixture.

This is the powder room we neglected to take pictures of before we moved in.

It was kind of.. erm.. essential that we find a cheap fixture for this room quick style. Even though peeing in the dark may help avoid cancer(???), I’m a scaredy pants and Rolan is both near-sighted and over 6-foot-tall. He does not need any more handicaps while doing his business.

We spend a lot of time in Ikea recently as it is both a.) budget-friendly and b.) the only modern one-stop home decor shop that we know of in the Netherlands. While there, we spotted and instantly loved this Ottava light. However, after Rolan’s not-tall-at-all brother paid us a visit, I started to question whether we made the right choice.

In fact, Ramon’s visit made me ponder whether we can have drop pendants at all. I’m thinking in the case of the powder room, the verdict is, sadly, no. But I’ve promised Rolan to live with it for a little while. We’ll see what happens.

We also stole borrowed a light for a temporary fix for the hole in the wall above the mirrors in the bathroom. Rolan got it installed last night so now it’s actually hanging on the wall and not off the wall.

I say “temporary fix” because, like most everything else, we have big plans for this fixture in the future.

Another temporary fix in this picture is the bare light bulb you see dangling from the ceiling on the left. Yeah, we are not that minimalist. Our budget is, though.

So that is what we have so far. It’s just three little tweaks, but they sure have shed some light on the situation. Wop wop. Bad pun intended.

How about you guys? Have you ever had to resort to a “temporary fix” while you (or your budget) got prepared for the permanent solution? Or have you ever had a tall relative bump his head on a light fixture?


Tour time!

Is it a blessing or a curse when you can pack all your belongings in less than 3 hours? I’m going with blessing.

Yep, we planned to move on Sunday and we began packing around oh, I dunno… Sunday afternoon? We borrowed Rolan’s uncle’s band bus (complete with giant band name stickered onto the side) and filled it full of our stuff. Then we unloaded it in a matter of an hour because we have so much stuff you guys.

Internet was connected yesterday, so today I’d like to just share some pics of the apartment before we moved our things in. The pink wallpaper is in full swing in these pictures, so try to divert your attention more to the beautiful laminate flooring we installed.

Here is the view from the front door. The open door you see on the right leads to the powder room and the open door on the left walks into the living/dining/kitchen.

My plans for this space include a “landing zone” for mail, keys, jackets, shoes, umbrellas (we need umbrellas A LOT here), etc. The little telephone hanging on the wall is a video feed of the front of the apartment building and allows you to open the door (or not) for visitors. I am living in the future, ya’ll.

The biggest room in the apartment is the one that melds three vital rooms together: the living room, dining room and kitchen. I should call it the dinkitchliving room. Or the kitchdinliving room. Maybe I’ll go really wild and name it the lividinkitchen.

This room is home to two of the apartment’s biggest selling points: these big, beautiful french doors that open up to let in sunlight and fresh air. Another selling point was how big this room is. The pictures do not do it justice.

The door you see on the left of the above picture walks out onto this big balcony:

Sometimes the sun actually shines in the Netherlands, so we were thrilled with the idea of having a private place to enjoy those 2 spectacular days.

Back inside, the kitchen is extremely modern, with sleek white cabinets, stainless steel hardware, and brand-new Siemens appliances. There is also a hidden fridge, freezer and dishwasher in there (all on the left).

I’m planning on adding some open shelving on the left. Not sure what to do with the big wall over the sink, though.

The bedrooms are nothing spectacular — yet.

This is the master bedroom, you can tell because of how master-y it looks. Actually, it’s not much bigger than the other bedroom.

We’ve already decided that this room should become the office/studio. Rolan is a music man on the low down and desperately needs a place to put his keyboard and sound equipment. And so it shall be done.

In the bathroom, we have dual sinks and a walk-in shower.

And a bath. A big-enough-to-actually-enjoy-yourself-in bath.

Just for fun, here is our auxiliary room.

I hope that someday (in the very near future) this will house a washing machine. We have a severe lack of washing machine in this apartment. I’d also like to get some kind of dirty laundry system and linen closet thingamajig in here.

Not pictured is the powder room. It’s just a room with a sink and a toilet though so you’re not missing much.

And that’s the new place. We have already made some improvements and touch-ups since moving in so I’ll be sure to update with those.

What do you guys think? The wallpaper, is it as horrific as I think it is?


To-Do List

Our apartment is a brand-spankin’ newly built apartment, which is awesome because it’s got a modern look and feel and (almost) nothing needs to be updated (they put pastel pink wallpaper on all the walls! why? whywhyWHY!?). Ahem.

However, since it is brand new and no one has ever lived in it before, it comes without some necessary things. Like floors. And light fixtures. Those kinds of things will obviously take precedent over design-y and decorate-y things. But we are glad we get to live in the space while we tailor it to our liking and — of course — update you guys along the way.

Here, I wanted to keep an ongoing list of the projects we are planning for each room. You know, to keep things organized and maybe even keep us honest.

Take a look, but don’t get overwhelmed. And I’m pointing at myself with that last sentence.

Whole apartment

  • Install laminate flooring
  • Install quarter-round wall trim
  • Paint baseboards white(?)
  • Decide on color scheme
  • Decide on what to do about the wallpaper (leave it? paint over it? take it down, fix the wall behind and paint? hang other wallpaper?)

Bedroom

Bathroom

  • Find & install ceiling light fixture
  • Find & install over-sink mirror light fixture
  • Find storage solutions
    • Under sink?
    • To right of sink?
    • In shower?

Powder Room

Entryway

Kitchen

Living/dining room

Studio
  • Clean out this room
  • Figure out best use of space in here
  • Figure out curtain situation
  • Find & install light fixture
  • Find furniture

Balcony

  • Find furniture
  • Build pallet benches
  • Outdoor rug
  • Find small outdoor table and chairs

Utility room

  • Washer (dryer?)
  • Find & install light fixture
  • Figure out best use of space (storage? laundry?)

Storage room

  • Don’t let this become a mess! Get some kind of system in here pronto!

Just writing that all out was daunting! Sheesh! What have we gotten ourselves into!?