visualheart has a Society6 Shop

I recently launched a society6 shop to keep my creativity flowing while being unemployed. I ordered a few of my designs to check out the quality and I have to say it’s pretty great! The fabrics are polyester which makes them pretty durable and they are surprisingly soft. The graphics printed really clear too, I was worried about that because I work with a lot of my own photography.

Society6 ships to Canada, my tip to keep shipping fees, border fees and extra taxes down, order pillows without stuffing, it makes the package smaller and you’ll likely avoid paying additional fees when it arrives. I haven’t order anything other than pillows just yet, I’m thinking a tote bag might be necessary for Summer!

You can browse my designs at www.society6.com/visualheart it’s also in the navigation menu above.

visualheart society6
visualheart society6
visualheart society6

Polished Concrete Floors

As soon as we got the keys to our place we got to work by quickly ripping out the laminate wood floors and selling them on craigslist (surprisingly they sold within a few hours). The floor was about 80% salvageable, there were a few places with water damage and wear from bad installation. Luckily they were just floating floors so they came up really easily. We were crossing our fingers that the concrete floor underneath would be in perfect condition, natural grey and sealed. Oh boy were we wrong….

Painted Concrete Floors - before

It was ugly, really ugly. They had painted brown diamonds on the floor with watered down blue. The worst part was it looked like someone used a mop to apply it, because it was all swirly and brushy.

At first I wanted to give up on having nice polished concrete floors, I thought, lets just install some nice affordable hardwood flooring. The problem was we really didn’t have the budget, because we were doing a full kitchen renovation and 2 bathrooms, and painting the entire space.

So I frantically called several places to quote on grinding off the blue paint and polishing it after. Who knew it would end up being cheaper than installing wood flooring. So we went for it. It took forever! Turns out they under quoted us, because the work ended up being more intense than they expected. The blue paint had actually stained the concrete and really saturated into it, to this day you can still see slight blue tints in the floor and the occasional blue fleck.

painted concrete floors - before

The process took a about 5 days. Most of the time was spent grinding off the blue paint and using hand tools to chip away at bits that wouldn’t come off with the machine. The last steps were to wash and dry the floor and lastly apply the sealer and let it dry for about 2 days.

I went with a semi-gloss sealer, but after over a year of living here I regret not using a high-gloss finish. I was initially worried it was going to be too shiny, I didn’t want that wet look, but what I didn’t realize was that it goes matte pretty quickly. Someday I’d love to roll on a gloss finish ourselves, but the thought of moving all our furniture around and sleeping in here with all the chemical smells doesn’t sound all that fun. Honestly though, the floors are beautiful and a million times better than that ugly brown and blue combination. I just have to look at that before photo to remind myself just how awful it really was.

polished concrete floor - after

Apartment Entrance Before and After

The entrance to our apartment was kind of depressing. Peel and stick vinyl tiles were placed just in the entrance area and they were the biggest pain in the butt to remove. It was like they stuck them down with super glue, but eventually they were removed (by some contractors we hired). We kept the concrete floor throughout our entire space and put down some rugs to keep things cozy. It’s mostly the little things that make me happy about the current state of this space, as it’s still a work in progress.

Here’s some before photos:

apartment entrance before

apartment entrance before

In the entrance we added 3 inch tall baseboards, new cover plates for plugs and light switches, a practical storage unit from Ikea (we store scarves, hats and reusable grocery bags in here), a hanging light fixture from CB2, new wall sconce from Light The Store, a bench from craigslist and a few rugs I had from my old apartment.

Some things on the to do list:
- New front door handles and lock
- Another piece of art on the wall above the bench to balance out the grouping
- Possibly replace orange artwork with a large mirror
- Possibly paint the entrance door

Hallway Entrance Ikea storage

We added doors to the laundry room which is just behind the wall with the Ikea unit, this makes the space feel less cluttered, the previous owners had a curtain dividing the space.

Here’s some after photos:

apartment entrance before and after

Apartment entrance before and after

apartment before and after

Recipe Adventure: Chocolate Diablo Cookies

Chocolate Diablo cookies are essentially spicy ginger chocolate cookies. I like to call them Hot Cocoa Cookies. This recipe is sweet and spicy, crunchy on the outside and chewy like a brownie on the inside. They have a unique flavour that will leave you totally satisfied. This recipe is from a local Vancouver food truck called Tacofino, so if you’re looking for their spicy cookie recipe you’ve come to the right spot. Enjoy!

Chocolate Diablo Cookies

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups sifted all purpose flour
1 cup sifted cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot!)
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed ginger juice or fresh grated ginger root
1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Mix dry ingredients.
In a seperate container, whisk wet ingredients.
Combine mixtures.
On a greased cookie sheet press fist size cookie dough balls out and sprinkle with rock salt and sugar.

Bake at 375°F  for approximately 11 minutes or until the cookies start to crack.
They should be nice and fudgey in the middle.
Makes 12 BIG cookies or many more small ones.

Mid Century Modern Before and After

Last week I found a cabinet for free and saw that it had some potential under the beat up ugly white paint job to possibly be a Mid Century style project.

From the inside I could see that it was mostly made of some kind of wood, but it was pretty beat up, so I figured I could only salvage the drawer front and paint the rest of it. The best part, the bottom of the cabinet had brackets attached for legs!

Check out the ugly before photos:
Cabinet Before

Here’s what it took to give this white box a new life:
- Sanding all over
- Sanding off all the paint on the drawer
- 2 coats of primer
- 2 coats of high-gloss enamel paint from Benjamin Moore - Tropicana Cabana + Snowfall White
- Attached 6″ Mid Century Modern style wood & metal legs from Home Depot
- 2 coats of tung oil (on the drawer and legs only)

Mid Century Modern Style Cabinet

I shared this in a guest post over at Poppytalk, go check it out.
Also, <a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12093337/?claim=dd28dvppsav”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Upstairs Bathroom Renovation: Before and After

As promised here’s some updated photos of our upstairs bathroom renovation. But first, check out these before photos. The upstairs bathroom was interesting…. The previous owners had installed a “steam shower” which wasn’t installed properly so technically someone could have been electrocuted while having a shower. Not cool! Personally I’d probably die from having to look at the ugly tiles while showering.

The tiny shower area was divided by a wall which had the toilet and vanity on the other side. This space is tiny! I’m not sure why they thought it would be smart to make them into 2 separate rooms, but that shower felt insanely claustrophobic considering you couldn’t really turn around inside of it, it was a walk in forwards and back out slowly situation.

Naturally, we wanted to open up the space and take advantage of the skylight that was just to the right of the bathroom. The only problem was the pipes from the sprinkler system didn’t allow us the very open space we wanted because it went through one of the walls and we didn’t want to contact our building to shut off the water and move pipes (that’s expensive and time consuming). So we removed the main dividing wall and kept a half wall for a bit more privacy. We cut out a “window” in the wall to allow the natural light from the skylight to shine in and it’s the perfect spot for plants. We did have cactus on the shelf for a year, but they died from too much shower steam, so we’ll need to find some small plants that can handle humidity.

upstairs bathroom renovation before

Upstairs Bathroom - After
I had mentioned in a previous post that we had the apartment water shut off inside our shower!! It couldn’t be moved because we didn’t have time on our side to deal with it since we needed to move in ASAP and it’s a crazy process to contact our building to contact the city to shut off the sprinkler system, so our plumber created another shut off location near our hot water tank and this one is now pretty much useless, but it’s still there and still very ugly. We tiled around it and got a custom acrylic shelf made that disguises the eye-sore. The shelf is open underneath so it’s still accessible. Maybe someday down the road we’ll remove it, but for now it’s not harming anyone.

The reason the water shut off was in the shower was pretty obvious, the previous owners converted what was a closet, into a shower and second bathroom, yikes! Check out some photos of the shelf situation:

Acrylic Shower Shelf

Downstairs Bathroom Renovation Update

I thought it was time to take a few new photos of our bathrooms. This post will just be about the downstairs bathroom renovation, look out for a post about the upstairs bathroom soon!

Even though our renovation was over a year ago, things are still not perfect, but the renovation is done and it’s generally pretty, I just keep fussing over accessories (although I’ll like fuss about that stuff my whole life haha). Also, the fact that I REALLY want to replace the light fixture. We put in a cheap Ikea fixture as soon as the reno was done, it was meant to be replaced eventually, but I just haven’t found the right fixture for the space. Check out the transformation below, it’s pretty awesome too look back on it, I can’t believe the walls used to be mustard yellow and the floors were blue! Also, the closet is the major change for us, sliding doors and shelves inside!

Oh and if you missed the previous posts about this bathroom check them out here and here.

small bathroom renovation

Recipe Adventure: Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

This lemon poppy seed loaf recipe is a variation on the lemon loaf I posted a while ago. It’s pretty much the exact same recipe, adding poppy seeds. It’s got a wonderful subtle crunch and flavour.

lemon poppy seed loaf recipe

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coconut oil

Set aside:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper if desired.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and poppy seeds into one bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
With a spatula, fold the coconut oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Then, simmer 1/3 cup lemon juice and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves.

When the cake is done, cool for 10 minutes. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer, then while the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.

lemon poppy seed loaf recipe

Tropicana Cabana Dresser Before and After

Another dresser before and after. It’s becoming a regular thing! I love giving an old dresser a new life with a bit of paint and new hardware. I’ve been using the same paint colours because I’m on a tight budget and there’s really no point in buying new paint until I’ve used up what I’ve already got. So I did the same colour combination as a recent makeover I did to this dresser. The paint colours are Tropicana Cabana and Snowfall White from Benjamin Moore.

Unfortunately I don’t have decent before photos, because I was too excited to start on the project that I didn’t think to snap a few photos. So all I’ve got is the original photo from the craigslist ad and a phone photo of the legs and drawer front. The dresser was badly stained, really uneven with many scratches and chips. The drawer pulls were handmade from wood and in need of replacing.

I filled all the chips and holes from the drawer pulls and sanded everything down. It took 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint to cover the dark stain, don’t you think it looks so much happier now?

dresser-tropical-cabana1

 

dresser before

dresser-tropical-cabana2
dresser makeover

Dresser Before and After

So i’ve started a hobby. It began with a few projects for our apartment, but I’ve now decided to look for furniture that has potential and give it an update, hopefully on a regular basis.

This latest find was only $10! Trust me, it was totally worth $10, it was in horrible shape with a very broken drawer a ton of scratches and chips. I had to seriously sand it, repair the missing corner on one drawer front and follow it up with a primer before the top coat. I had paint I wanted to use up, so I went with an all white enamel for the finish, of course I immediate regretted it because it showed all the imperfections and it took about 6 coats of paint to cover the almost black brown finish. In the end, I decided that it was the nature of the piece since it is probably older than I am. So the imperfections were inevitable since I’m no pro.

I quickly got over things and put the focus on the hardware. The existing hardware wasn’t worth saving as it was literally falling apart. I couldn’t do new drawer pulls because the holes didn’t line up with current drawer pull measurements (vintage is different to modern times apparently), so I filled one of the holes and went with knobs instead, since I wasn’t willing to drill knew holes.

After filling the holes and sanding and filling them again and sanding again, the stupid holes were still slightly visible once the paint went on. I think it had something to do with the brand of wood filler I was using and the fact that it was kind of dried up. A few coats of paint kind of camouflaged it, but in certain light it was obviously visible. Anyway….I had some crystal knobs in storage for a moment like this. Initially I wanted something understated and modern, because glamour isn’t really my style, but I wanted to be different and had to remember it wasn’t for me, I was going to sell it after. Plus the whole point was to make a profit, so I didn’t want to spend money on knobs. So it was decided, I’d go with something super sparkly to distract from all of the small imperfections I could still see. Check out the before and after below.

dresser-before

dresser-after

dresser-before-after

Hallway Art

Our hallway is very broken up with doors, small walls and stairs. There’s a small section of wall that you can see when you walk in the door, and it was asking for some art! My parents gave us these awesome bicycle prints, they have been in our family for years. We had some super old Ikea frames that were actually made of wood, yes, that’s how old they were. So I purchased some mat board from Michaels and cut them to fit into the frames and just like that we added some character to the space.

The cabinet below was custom made from scraps of wood and then painted with some extra paint we had from our renovations. I didn’t want to have a cabinet in the hallway, but we had no choice, unfortunately the hallway was the only spot the internet could be installed in our place. So we built this super shallow cabinet to house the wireless router and all the cables, it also gives us a little extra storage.

Hallway art

Spring Inspiration

Just when I thought Spring was almost here, Vancouver got blasted with snow for 3 days. My winter blahs set in again, (made worse by unemployment), I was in need of a pick-me-up. So I did some online window shopping. Here’s a few colours, textures and objects that caught my eye. Enjoy!

spring inspiration 2014

Anthropologie, Native Shoes, AldoHershel SupplyThe Beautiful Project, Urban Outfitters, visualheart on Society6, ArdeneBarefoot Contessa, Old Faithful Shop, Frends HeadphonesWest Elm, CB2

Dresser update

A while ago I posted about a dresser I found that was in need of a lot of love. I realized I forgot to post an update showing how I’ve decorated it. I bought these fun prints at Ikea to fit in some existing frames that were in storage. I can’t let go of this paper orchid Andrew made me when we first started dating, the paper has faded a lot, but our love hasn’t (haha sorry couldn’t resist) so it will stay there until it falls apart. I’ve had the metal scooter for a long while, it just happens to match very nicely.

vintage dresser makeover

vintage dresser makeover

 

Vintage Library Ladder

A while back I posted about our library, it’s been over year without a ladder, luckily there’s ladders we can borrow from the building and if we need to reach the very top we use BBQ tongs haha! Of course we really want a ladder of our own, but they’re hard to come by and kind of expensive. Every week i’d check on craigslist for library ladders, most were over priced, too short, not in good condition. We found one at an auction a few months ago, but it was way too pricey and really short.

The other week it happened, I saw a post on craigslist for the perfect ladder, 12ft tall, solid oak with a wood hand rail. It was meant to be! The price was even less than half of others we had seen. The only question was, how the heck were we going to get a 12ft ladder in our tiny car?! Well, somehow it worked:

library ladder car

Above is a photo of Andrew, a smile on his face after a few swear words and frustration and the removal of a few metal bars, we got it in the car!

After a somewhat nerve racking drive home, we got to work and by we I mean Andrew. He removed some metal brackets we didn’t want and gave it a wash and then a few coats of oil to bring out it’s colour. This ladder had been sitting in someone’s basement for over a decade, it was really dirty.

library ladder clean

As you may have noticed, the wheels slide vertically, not horizontally, but that’s okay in our situation we don’t even want to have it slide so we’re going to figure out how to lock the wheels in place.

Since our library shelves aren’t stable enough to mount a really heavy oak ladder to, we realized we’d have to figure out a different position for it, plus it would block the window anyway. Check out our temporary set up right now, some minor adjustments will be made, but it’s pretty much where we want it to be and we couldn’t be happier!

loft library ladder

loft library ladder

loft library ladder

After some hunting online, we discovered our ladder is very similar to a Putnam Rolling Ladder, specifically their telephone ladder. Check out the specs we found:

putnam rolling ladder

Art needed

Coming from a background in fine arts and a career in graphic design, you’d think i’d have plenty of awesome art on my walls. The truth is I struggle with having my own art on our walls. I do have a few paintings up from my past, but in all honesty I only have them up there so I don’t have to put them in storage. I’d rather have some unique illustrations or typographic prints. There’s something kind of sad about having paintings on my walls from 2005, which is probably the last time I picked up a paintbrush. I’ve been trying to find unique graphic prints for our walls and I recently came across Minted. They have art prints created by independent artists, so it’s pretty awesome to be able to get something unique! Check them out: Limited Edition Art Prints

Hopefully I can find something to put in our bathroom to replace some images I ripped out of an old magazine. Having real art would be nice.

Here’s a few prints i’d had my eye on, but there’s so many to choose from it’s hard to figure out what I want.
Feathered Arrows by Pistols,  To the Ski Slopes by b.wise papers, Paris Street Shop 3 by The Lovely Letters, Little Houses on a Hillside by The Lovely Letters

minted art prints

Refrigerator Thoughts

refridgerator
Lets take a moment to talk about refrigeration. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. When we bought our place it came with a late 1970′s refrigerator that was in decent enough shape to keep, but we definitely weren’t in love with it, we just didn’t have the budget to buy a new one since we had to get a new stove and dishwasher among  other things.

fridgadaire

So we decided to do a mini makeover on the fridge and paint it a fun colour. You can read more about that process here. About a year later, the paint is still holding up, but the fridge handle is wearing pretty badly. Not only is the paint starting to wear, but the fridge is too.
kitchen-loft

Sometimes in the middle of the night i’ll be jolted awake by the loud motor turning on or off. Or i’ll be watching TV and i’ll have to turn up the volume to drown out the sound of the motor. Other times, we’ll have guests over and the motor will turn on and people will be like “what the heck is that noise?” and that’s when it hit me, I think the fridge is on it’s way out. I’m dreading the day of coming home from work, opening it up and discovering a fridge full of warm rotten food.

So, i’ve been loosely fridge shopping online the last few months, trying to find a brand I like, incase the inevitable day arrives where we have to rush out and buy something in a panic.

smeg

Andrew and I have always been into retro styled fridges, specifically the SMEG (isn’t everyone in love with it?). We lusted over it for years, dreaming of what colour we’d like in our kitchen, but we had never seen or touched one in real life. Then one day it happened, West Elm Market opened up a shop here in Vancouver and we finally got to put our hands on one. From a distance it was beautiful, shiny and fun, but then I reached out and touched it’s smooth shiny surface….. PLASTIC?!! I was so extremely disappointed to discover that the entire thing was made from plastic. It felt so cheap, it felt like a $400 Home Depot fridge in a cool modern/retro disguise. I was sad. I expected a solid fridge with an enamel painted body. I couldn’t believe it. How is it possible for a fridge to cost so much but have so little.

After a few weeks of mourning our loss, we had moved on. (kind of, I still dream about it in photos I see on Pinterest, but then I snap out of it and remember reality and the fact that we need a larger freezer.)

We’re still not really sure what brand we’ll be getting, as most are pretty ugly these days. I think my main issue is that it needs to be simple. No ice machines, no water machines, no digital stuff, no crazy compartments with many doors. It should also be energy efficient, but I  think most are these days.

My latest concern is that most new fridges are slick and stainless steel on the front, but the sides are black and ugly. Our fridge is free-standing and exposed in our kitchen, so it’s necessary to have a nice looking side.

Here’s a few models i’ve looked into, but realized that a quality fridge is pretty dang expensive.

fridges

1. GE  2. Maytag  3. Samsung  4. Viking

Got any refrigerator you’ve been lusting over lately? Share some links, i’d love to check them out.

How to make a Wine Cork Reindeer

For the past 20+ years i’ve held on to a craft I made in grade school. He’s a very awesome wine cork reindeer that gets displayed every Christmas. For the longest time i’ve wanted to make him a friend, but I kept forgetting to save a few wine corks for the project. I’ve finally got enough, so I decided to share with you what you’ll need to make a wine cork reindeer. Perfect craft project for children and adults :)

Christmas_Reindeer

Recipe Adventure: Easy Lemon Loaf Recipe

Here’s my super easy, super moist Lemon Loaf recipe, made with yogurt instead of butter.

lemon-loaf

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coconut oil

Set aside:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper if desired.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.
Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
With a spatula, fold the coconut oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Then, simmer 1/3 cup lemon juice and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves.

When the cake is done, cool for 10 minutes. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer, then while the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.

When the cake is completely cool, combine confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, pour over the cake.

Garnish with toasted coconut and lemon zest if desired.

 

Recipe Adventure: Carrot Cake

It’s been top secret for years, but I’ve decided to share my no fail, all flavour, super moist Carrot Cake recipe. Enjoy!

carrotcake-recipe-1

carrotcake-recipe-4

carrotcake-recipe-3

carrotcake-recipe-2

Ingredients
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
1 whole orange zest and some juice
3 cups grated carrot

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease 2 8 inch cake pans

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla.
Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon.
Stir in carrots, orange zest and juice. Fold in nuts and raisins.

Pour evenly into pans and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Cream Cheese Icing
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese
3-4 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine ingredient in mixer, beat until smooth.