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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Putting some POW! in the powder room

The toilet room is where I get my best thinking done.

Okay, that’s not true. I get my best thinking done in bed when I should be sleeping. But the toilet room is where I’ve had my latest and greatest idea.

powder room

The toilet room is the only room where the walls are sort of normal. Not covered in wallpaper. Not tiled to the ceiling. Half of the wall is a wonderful blank canvas, albeit a popcorn-covered canvas. Ha! YOU THOUGHT I HAD A NORMAL WALL! Not so!

So I was looking at some of my favorite powder rooms and noticed they were all covered in black and white graphic wallpaper. Such a bold statement in such a small room! It packs such a punch!

Black and white powder room

Bam!

Black & white powder room

Pow!

Hinson's fireworks wallpaper

Ka-blammy!

But all of those inspiration pictures use wallpaper. And as much as I’d love to drop a couple hundred euros to make my powder room go BOOM! when you open the door, I’ve got that popcorn situation going on, remember?

So then I remembered a project I’ve been working off and on for awhile, which was basically copying the idea behind this art but using some of our inside jokes in place of rap lyrics:

Rap lyric art

(I can’t find the original source for that picture, so if you know whose genius idea this is please let me know so I can give credit where it’s due.)

I thought, hey, that’s black and white and graphic. And printing some sheets of paper would be way cheaper than wallpaper. Plus, this way I could use frames and create something of a gallery with it.

So what I’m really saying is stay tuned because that is so happening soon.

(Images link to original source where I could find it. All images can be found on my Pinterest board.)


Give me a break

These days, with money being so tight, it gets easy to beat myself up about what we can’t yet afford to do around the apartment.

But today when I woke up I heard my brain telling me to relax.

So I listened. And I realized…

It’s okay that the couch is a little dirty in spots. It was free and it is holding up well to Ludovico’s talon claws.

It’s also his favorite place for daily cat naps, which are a much-appreciated break from the norm of “No! Stop! Ouch! That’s my leg!”

It’s also okay that the hand-me-down bench we received from Rolan’s uncle is upholstered in a dark red and black damask.

Because, as it happens, the Ikea Ofelia throw that Rolan’s mother gifted me makes a pretty nice little slipcover for the time being.

Not perfect, but it’s fine for now!

Also not perfect is our clothes storage situation in the bedroom. But that’s okay because we have beautiful dark blue curtains we found on clearance that were lovingly sewn together by Rolan’s mother and hemmed to the right height by yours truly.

And even though I will probably kill them soon, I am enjoying the fresh herbs we have growing in our kitchen.

There is so much possibility in this apartment. I simultaneously can and can’t wait to see what comes of it.


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.


The problem in the powder room

Below is a picture of the powder room.

We have already mentioned the problem with the drop-pendant in here, but can you spot the other glaring functionality problem in the room?

Nooo, it’s not the missing mirror above the sink. But thank you for noticing.

If you’re too pooped to guess (ha!), the answer is: no toilet paper holder. No place to stash the teepee. Nowhere to hang the roll!

For shame, apartment builders. As if not including a toilet paper holder wasn’t enough, they also made the decision to border the room in tile. As in, hard-to-replace-when-you-move-out-so-don’t-drill-through-it tile.

And before you ask, no, we do not have one of those fancy bidet toilets that eliminate the need for toilet paper. I have seen this style of powder room (missing toilet paper holder, missing mirror over sink) before in other modernized living areas in the Netherlands, so maybe this is an epidemic. Hey, Dutch builders! Little help here!

Anyway, our current solution is to reach behind your head and pick a roll, any roll, magician-style.

Now remember the roll you picked. Do you remember it? Good. Now put it back in the deck.

We have been searching for some normal-er replacement, though. Since the room is surrounded in tile and we don’t want to drill through that unless we absolutely have to, we figure we have two choices. We can either hang it on the tile with a sticker/suction cup or we can have the paper holder standing on the floor.

Since this room is smalllllll, I’m not thrilled with the idea of putting something on the floor and making it feel more cramped. But we can’t deny that would be the easiest option. As you can kind of see in the picture above, there is a nice wide opening between the toilet and the wall where you could put a toilet roll stand and probably not see it when looking into the room.

I’ve got options, though.

1. Toilet brush holder with stand — There are a myriad of options available to the savvy searcher on Amazon for toilet paper roll stands, but this one comes with a nice — dare we say elegant? — way to also store your unsightly toilet paper brush.

2. Invotis Orange ToiletBoy — Designed by the Dutch for an apparently common Dutch problem. We almost bought this one in the store yesterday, but I’m not certain if this apparatus will be elegant or flimsy.

3. Pylones Toilet Paper Holder — Rolan put it very simply to me when I showed him this option: “No.” But in my mind this googly-eyed robot is spraypainted a sleek white and becomes our little secret toilet paper dispensing robot of love. And maybe we could leave the googly eyes.

4. Chrome Everloc Toilet Roll Holder — Again, Amazon may come to the rescue here with a slew of options available. My favorite is a chrome version and has this stunning explanation from the manufacturer: “Suction Lock Toilet Roll Holder. No need to look for studs. You can just put it were [sic] you want it.” I have already found my stud, Mr. Manufacturer, but I may still put it where I want it. I just may.

5. Clojo toilet paper holder — Again, a Dutch design firm tries to nullify the Great Dutch Design Dilemma of the 2010s with this offering, a wire clothes hanger turned toilet paper dispenser.

And there we have it, folks! Proof that we can spend way longer than the normal human being thinking about toilet paper.

Forget the over or under debate! Where do you fall when it comes to Standing or Sticking? Or is there another option we haven’t over-thought about yet?

Image 1 and 4 are courtesy of Amazon.com. Image 2 is courtesy of Invotisorange.com. And image 5 is courtesy of droog.com.


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?


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!?