Tips For When You’re Literally Living in Your Mom’s Basement

 

We’ve heard the stats. There’s now more adults living at home than ever before.

(As I mentioned in a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post last year, a Pew Research study found that as of 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to be living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner in their own household. According to their research, this turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in millennials who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35, but also by larger economic issues.)

I am one of those adults.

A few years ago, my Mom helped me turn a ground level storage room into a bedroom and work area. I’ve since learned a little bit about subterranean living.

(Technically, my living space is “garden level.” My Mom always likes to remind me of this. However, I think a  lot of these tips apply to anyone who is living in a small and/or less than desirable living situation.)

Whether you’re living in Vancouver, Barrie or somewhere else in basement-living-land, these lessons and tips are for you.

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1. Surround yourself with things you love. Just don’t go overboard.

For me this means books, books, books and more books, plus a few carefully chosen tchotkes that I’ve collected over the years. If I’m having a bad day – and even when I’m not – it’s nice to look around and see things that bring me joy. With that said, I’ve learned that it’s important to reel in the collecting, unless you actually want to feel like you’re living in a literal bookshelf (hey, maybe that’s your thing though! No judgement!) Personally, I prefer a more minimal space so I’ve had to learn how to balance the desire for “things” with keeping the space as open as possible.

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2. Color is your friend.

I used to think that the only way to do small space living was by being as neutral and monochromatic as possible. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy a nice pop of color here and there. Experiment and find what makes you happy. (FYI these Mexican pompoms (above) give me life and are perfect for brightening up a room – whether that’s room is in Cambridge, Ontario or Tulum, Mexico)

3. Warm bedding is key.

Winters on the west coast are damp. Heck, summers can feel pretty damp too. This innate chilliness is intensified when you’re sleeping in a basement or ground level space. But it’s nothing that a warm duvet can’t fix. I prefer natural duck down, but there’s lots of synthetic options that are great too. PS. Sheepskin throws are also great for adding a cozy vibe to your space.

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4. Indulge in a few luxury touches.

Sure, you’re likely living with your family to save money but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge in a little luxury. No, I’m not suggesting that you go out and drop your last five grand on a Cartier serving tray. I’m just saying that adding a few touches that make your space feel special (whatever that looks like to you) is good for your mental health. I’m a big fan of art that brings back good memories (like my Jaguar print by Emma Ruben that I brought back from Tulum) and the gold & mirrored accessories I found at Target.

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5. Edit your possessions ruthlessly.

My space is small — especially my closet — so I’ve had to adopt a “one in, one out policy” when it comes to new possessions. Just because you love something doesn’t mean it has to be in your space. If you have access to storage, pack away everything that’s not essential. Yup, that’s my actual messy closet and yes, I do buy striped t-shirts in bulk. Thanks for asking!

6. Never go to bed angry.

I don’t know what your situation is, but if you interact with your family on a daily basis this rule is golden. Living with other people isn’t easy. If you can let it go (sometimes it’s just not worth the argument), do it. Otherwise, talk it out and apologize if necessary.

7. There ain’t no shame in your game.

Okay, that’s only partly true. I’m super self-conscious about the fact that I live at home (especially after spending so many years living on my own) but most people are really supportive when I tell them. Sure, dating while living at home can be a bit awkward at times, but it’s not that big a deal. This is just temporary. If anyone you’re dating has a problem with your living situation, they’re not right for you anyways.

What are some of your favorite tips for living in a basement or small space?

20 Things To Do on a Weekend Getaway to Vancouver

 

As someone who spent over a decade living in a major metropolis, people always ask me, “how do you survive living on the island?” First off, let’s get a few things straight: Victoria isn’t a big city but it’s not super small either. We’ve got bars. We’ve got coffee shops. We’ve got more marijuana dispensaries than is humanly necessary. While the shopping is somewhat limited, you can still mostly get what you need (unless what you need is a Zara store. I mean, come on Victoria). With that said, living on an island comes with limitations and the desire to “get off the island” can get strong. So, when that question comes up, I always answer: “regular trips to Vancouver!”

I’ve spent large chunks of time in Vancouver since I was child and like to think I have a decent handle on the city. After posting a bunch of photos from my recent trip two weeks ago, a friend commented, “I should get you to plan my next weekend in Vancouver! I never know what to do once I’m there.” So, I’ve decided to  do just that.

Here’s some of my favourite things to do and eat in Vancouver, as seen through the lens of someone who visits the city regularly.

1. Eat at Guu Izakaya.

“You want me to eat at a place called Guu?” is what most people ask. I always tell them, “yes, yes a thousand times yes!” If you haven’t experienced Izakaya (Japanese tapas) before, Guu should be your first stop. Luckily, there are a bunch of locations around the city, each with a slightly different menu. One thing I have to order at every one I visit is their Tuna Takaki. It’s simply the best I’ve ever had.

2. Shop at a Japanese dollar store.

If you’ve never experienced a Japanese dollar store, you’re in luck because Vancouver has quite a few! I’ve recently fallen in love with the newly opened Miniso chain, which is more upscale and a great source for cosmetics, housewares & sheet masks, but Yokoyaya (International Village) and Daiso (in Richmond) are also worth checking out.

3. Stay at the Burrard Hotel.

Described as “Melrose Place without the murder” The Burrard Hotel is my go-to for when I’m not staying at my sister’s place. The decor is delightfully retro and the palm tree filled courtyard makes you feel like you’re somewhere much further south. Joe the Intern likes their selection of art by Dina Goldstein that’s scattered throughout the hotel.

4. Look at pretty things at Nordstrom.

Nordstrom used to be a novelty reserved for trips to the States, but now there’s stores in Canada. The downtown Vancouver location is stunning and a great source of inspiration if you’re like me and you love looking at & touching pretty things. The selection is curated to suit an Asian market, which I find generally means more whimsical, adventurous pieces. There’s also a bar. Inside the store. You know, because.

5. Eat a Japadog.

If you’re in Vancouver and you’ve never experienced a Japanese style hotdog, you need to visit Japadog. They have carts throughout downtown as well as a storefront restaurant on Robson street. It’s a Vancouver institution and likely one of the best street meats you’ll ever consume. My favourite is the Kurobuta Terimayo. If I’m going to send my body into a gluten spiral, this is my first stop. (American friends: they now have two locations in LA!)

6. Go bro-watching at the Cactus Club.

I think it’s accurate to say that a lot of people here have a love/hate relationship with the Cactus Club. Going to one is a bit like hooking up with an ex that has a “meh” personality but is hot and surprisingly good in bed. The Cactus Club is a chain restaurant that always makes you feel a bit like you’re stepping into an Entourage episode, but you stay because they’re in all the best locations (like overlooking the water in Coal Harbor or English Bay) and the food is actually quite excellent.

“I got 99 problems, but this beach ain’t one” – English Bay Cactus Club Cafe #beach #vancouver #patio

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7. Go on a Vancouver Foodie Tour.

Want to experience some of the best food Vancouver has to offer in one afternoon? I seriously recommend booking a Vancouver Foodie Tour. A few summers ago, The Secret Agent and I went on the Guilty Pleasures Gourmet tour and it was amazing. Not only are you going to eat some delicious things, you’ll also get a great overview of the city’s culture.

8. Go for drinks at Long Table Distillery or The Keefer Bar.

Head to the Long Table Distillery for a few drinks before you head out for the night. This small tucked away micro-distillery has a cool, industrial-style tasting room for handcrafted spirits and some of the best craft cocktails I’ve tasted. Craving more cocktails? Check out The Keefer Bar in Chinatown. I still haven’t been there yet, but reliable sources say it’s amazing.

9. Swim in the pools at Kitsilano or Second Beach.

Vancouver public pools > your public pools. Vancouver is home to several excellent public pools like Kitsilano (which is saltwater!) and Second Beach in Stanley Park. Both spots have scenic waterfront views that rival any hotel pool in the city.

10. Eat something deliciously greasy at Hons.

By now you’ve probably figured out that Vancouver is a hub for amazing Asian food. Is Hon’s the best Chinese food in the city? Probably not. But it’s kind of an institution and it serves damn tasty Cantonese comfort food. Think perfectly fried and just a little bit smoky rice noodles with beef, crispy fresh Gai-Lan with oyster sauce and plates of bbq pork all served by staff in matching T-shirts.

11. Have sushi at Shiro.

If you’re walking along a street in Vancouver and you don’t pass at least a handful of sushi restaurants before you reach your destination, be concerned. Very, very concerned. There’s just so. much. sushi. here. Shiro is my favourite in the city though.

12. Treat yourself to dinner at Wildebeest.

If you’re looking to go for a higher-end meal and like things meaty, hit up Wildebeest in Gastown. I can be a bit of a scene on the weekends, but I’ve had some of my favourite meals from the past five years at this restaurant. I also recommend Pidgin (Asian/French fusion) which is right around the corner.

Our Smoked Boar Belly is one of many #happyhour reasons to leave work early. 5-6pm every day! #treatyoself

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13. Take the Skytrain to Aberdeen Centre.

If you’re in the mood to be transported somewhere totally different, take a quick skytrain ride to the Aberdeen Centre – a large Asian shopping mall just outside the city in Richmond. You’ll find stores like Hong Kong’s Giordano that aren’t available elsewhere in Canada. Hint: stop at the food court for lunch and/or some delicious Asian desserts.

14. Enjoy a decadent meal during Dine Out Vancouver.

If you’re like me and love fine dining and are also budget conscious, Dine Out – a yearly event where high-end restaurants offer prix-fixe menus at a reduced cost – is probably going to be your jam. This past winter, a friend and I took advantage & had a wonderful meal at Yew.

15. Shop at Front & Company on Main.

Located on a the hip Main St street, Front and Company features a mix of previously worn name brand & designer items and new pieces. It’s also where I go to sell items from my wardrobe  – and let’s face it – where I get a huge chunk of my clothes. Most of my profits usually end up going back into the store because I almost always find something gorgeous to buy every time I visit.

16. Eat some Pupusas on Commercial Drive.

Commercial Drive (“The Drive”) is probably the area of the city that most reminds me of Toronto – in the best way possible. Old school Italian businesses press up against hip bars, vintage shops and Indian take-out. While you’re there, make sure to try some pupusas (delicious El Salvadorean corn patties stuffed with melted cheese, beans & meats) at Rinconcito Salvadoreno.

17. Look for treasures at Community Thrift & Vintage in Gastown.

Cobblestone lined Gastown is now home to a lot of trendy bars, restaurants and shops, but tucked away amongst the hip high-end sneaker shops and furniture stores, you can still find a bargain at one of two Community Thrift & Vintage stores. Not only are the stores super cute and well curated, they’re part of a social enterprise initiative that provides supportive, employment opportunities to women living in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

18. Grab a drink in the “Gayborhood” and wander around the West End & English Bay.

Davie Village (aka the “gaybourhood”) is a vibrant neighborhood located in the West End of downtown and is the heart of the city’s gay community. I love this area – especially in the the summer and around Pride weekend when the night life (and day life) spills out on to the street. Imbibe at one of the many eateries, bars or lounges and then head for a romantic stroll around English Bay (one of the best views in the city).

Hanging out in English Bay aka “fake California.”

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19. Discover discount designer duds at the consignment stores of South Granville.

Adjacent to some of Vancouver’s wealthiest neighbourhoods lies South Granville. This hood is home to stores like Anthropologie, James Perse, Max Mara and others. It’s also where the rich folks go to dump their wardrobes. My favourite place for scoring deals is Turnabout. Think lots of lightly used high-end to mid-range designer pieces for fair prices. Tip: if $30 Alice and Olivia dresses are your thing, head to the basement. That’s where you can find the clearance racks and deepest discounts.

20. Eat tacos at Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop.

These are the best tacos I’ve found outside of L.A. There’s now a location on the island so I don’t make a point of eating there when I’m Vancouver anymore, but it’s good. Oh so good. There’s a couple of locations around the city, the newest being in the financial district. Try the chicken tinga taco. It’s mouthwatering.

Vancouver friends, where are some of your favourite spots in the city?!

Styling Tips | When Your Bedroom is Your Office

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Here’s a little secret: I’m obsessed with online home tours. When I’m not writing, you can find me glued to sites like Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl and Homepolish, drooling over the gorgeous living spaces of strangers.

So, I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into my own live/work space. As I’ve mentioned before, my bedroom and office space are one of the same. When you’re living with space restrictions, I’ve learned that details are important – especially when it comes to making your space feel grown up.

This week I’m over at The Huffington Post sharing tips on decorating when your bedroom is your office. I encourage you to check out the article, but in the meantime here’s the Coles Notes version:

1. Your workspace is important but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

I used to think that I needed the “perfect” setting to finally write my book (cue: sun-flare filled images of me sitting at a typewriter in a charming Tuscan monastery). But, that’s bullshit. There’s no perfect time or space. You just need somewhere that’s reasonably comfortable to do the work.

 2. White paint fixes anything.

Even a hideous looking desk found on the side of the road. True story. My desk is actually a former vanity table rescued from my neighbour’s trash.

3. Don’t work from bed if you can avoid it.

You won’t feel very professional when you work from bed everyday. Trust me.

4. Take ownership.

Make your space comfortable and surround yourself with items that inspire you. I like to decorate with fresh flowers and my favourite books, but if a basket of neon haired lucky troll dolls and poster of Tony Danza giving you the thumbs up is what gets your creative juices flowing, do your thing.

5. Be versatile.

Furniture and decor that can be used in more than one way is key.

You can read the rest of the piece here.

Speaking of versatility, a few months ago, I teamed up with O.co to replace my nightstand (which, I’m still in love with by the way!) So, I was thrilled when the team at O.co offered to send me some new pieces to help make my home office more functional and cozy.

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Skinny Dippers, meet The Paris Wire Arm Chair (aka my “dream desk chair”) and the Natural by Lifestyle Brands New Zealand Sheepskin Rug, the two new additions to my space.

I love, love, love, both of these pieces. The mid-century style Paris Wire Arm Chair is delightfully chic and non-office like, yet comfortable enough to sit in all day. The Sheepskin Rug is super soft and much more plush than my old Ikea sheepskin throws.

Both pieces are incredibly versatile. The sheepskin throw can be draped across the back of a chair or used as a small rug. The chair looks great with my desk, but also helps create a nice reading nook.

Here are a few photos that the team from folkalpoint took of me in my space (thank you!)

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Office tour #2

{My work days: 90% cat wrangling, 10% staring whimsically off in the distance.}

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 Matilda and I are very fond of our new workspace upgrades. Matilda is especially fond of the “fuzzy.” Whenever I’m not using my chair, she immediately hops on and refuses to budge.

Thanks again for O.co for making this post happen. Stay tuned for more photos & goodies from my friends at folkalpoint!

I received the products featured in this post free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. All views are my own. 

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