Comics, cats, and childhood bedroom corners in the cozy Canadian apartment tour

You've seen Lenna's gorgeous cat litter boxes before. Now let's explore the rest of her home…

"Welcome to Canada" with this geeky home tour!

The offbeat occupant: Lenna, ad agency project manager, Zumba instructor, website designer, activist
Other occupants: My husband, Matt, writer/illustrator; the furkids: Mo, Emma, Angel, Batman
Approximate square footage: 650-1000 square feet

How many bedrooms? Two
Lives in: Port Credit, Ontario
When did you move into this home? 3.5 years

Let's start with the neighborhood. What's it like where you live? Port Credit is a neighbourhood in South Mississauga, Ontario, about 30 minutes west of Toronto. We're right on Lake Ontario, with lots of parks, the Credit River, and tons of great local shops and restaurants within walking distance. We're a stone's throw away from the GO train that gets me to work downtown in Toronto in about 20 minutes, which is super convenient. Our neighbourhood has an interesting mix of older apartment buildings and condos, surrounded by high-end condo buildings, million dollar+ town homes, and multi-million dollar mansion houses. Even the shops and restaurants are a mix of old, and gentrified trying-to-look-old new. We have all cultures, family types, and social classes in our neighbourhood, not to mention it's the summer destination for the rest of the city (there are festivals at the waterfront almost every weekend!), so there's lots of variety and plenty of interesting things going on at all times.

Dining area
Gallery wall in the dining room of custom art commissions from various comic artists.

What makes your home offbeat? Our home is full of comic art commissions and prints that we've collected at various comic cons over the years. We're also fond of physical media, so we have a ton of books, CDs, vinyl, and movies. One day, I want a giant library room, but for now we have to limit our book buying somewhat, because we've maxed-out the bookshelf space we own at the moment.

Living room
The book-filled living room.

I love colour and mixing patterns. We're both giant kids, collecting toys and figurines, Legos, and more. Matt's got super heroes, and I've got robots, monsters, and aliens. We want our home to feel like "us," not like it came out of a home decor magazine.

Living room
Our Lego collection grows…

What's the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? Although it's very well-organized, I still feel like it's too small for us sometimes. We were spoiled in our old apartment in Wisconsin, which was double the size (and half the rent!). Matt likes reading while lying on the floor, and there really isn't any good spot for him to do that. I also find it small when I'm trying to sew or exercise. The key has been rearranging furniture to open up the space, instead of blocking it out, and lots of vertical storage. Since we've made changes to the living area and office, it feels much bigger than it did before.

Main living area.
The famous kitty litter boxes.

What's your favorite feature of your home? I'm still in love with the kitty litter boxes I made when we first moved in. They're still in great shape, doing their job, and whenever we have new friends over, they never realize that's what they are.

Living room.
Angel enjoying the sun in the living room.

Our living room feels so very cozy, with its comfy couch, many blankets, and library wall. I just love curling up with my husband and all the kitties after a long day at work. Also, removing the sliding mirrored doors on almost all the closets was the best idea, especially for my clothes closet. That was definitely one of the pain points that made me annoyed with the apartment before, and now that I've removed the doors on half the closets, the space feels so much more user-friendly.

Hallway
Rainbow run hallway with mirrored closets still in tact.

What's the most important lesson you've learned from this home? Taking photos of things that are broken/leaking/need fixing is the fastest way to get property management to act on it. We had a sink leak, ants, a broken fridge… all things that were driving me nuts and making me feel hatred toward the apartment. Multiple maintenance requests had zero effect until I started attaching photos. Before you know it, we had contractors in fixing ALL the things! I was amazed at how quickly my attitude towards the space changed once things were working properly again.

Office
Matt's desk in the office.

What's your grandest plan for the space? I have many plans for this year. Originally this apartment was supposed to be super temporary. We moved from Wisconsin rather suddenly, and I found this apartment on my own without Matt's help. I always figured we'd stay a year, then find a new place that we decided on together. But then we got weddinged, and then I was ill… there just never seemed to be a good time to move. Now it's been almost four years, and I've realized we might as well stay until we're ready to move somewhere significantly different.

Office
My desk area. AKA, my childhood bedroom shrunk into a corner.

Last year we upgraded the living room, kitchen, and office areas… this year, my big plans are for the bathroom (I'm going to paint, finally!), bedroom (reorganize!), kitchen (needs more storage to reduce counter clutter!), and balcony (ready to container garden!). If I actually follow through, I'll hopefully have some before-and-afters to post.

matt and lenna

What advice do you have for other Offbeat Homies? Make it your own! I've found the biggest obstacle to feeling happy where you are is thinking that it's temporary. If you're stuck in that mindset, it's really hard to motivate yourself to make improvements or change things, because why bother if you're just going to move out soon anyway? Before you know it, little annoyances become giant hatreds, and that's not good for anyone's mental state of mind. So just go for it, and make your space the most it can be, even if it IS temporary!

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  1. SO cute! It reminds me a lot of my place πŸ˜› And yes, those stupid sliding-door closets are the absolute BANE of my existence! The cat and ferret try non-stop to get inside, and will stop at NOTHING. So we just let them hang off their hinges. We can't make changes to our place like you can, so we can't actually chuck the things or make changes like we want πŸ™

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    • Yeah, I think every old building looks the same inside, haha πŸ™‚ Those closets are the worst! Technically I don't think we were allowed to remove them…. but I just unscrewed them all and have the doors and hardware stored in the backs of all the various closets. I'm not looking forward to figuring out how to reattach them when we finally leave…

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  2. Looks amazing! Thanks for sharing what your home looks like. I still love the kitty litter boxes and dig the eclectic/nerdy space.

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  3. Your advice is spot-on: every time I have moved somewhere, however short-term, I try to really make the space cosy and familiar, otherwise, I'm miserable. Even little things can make a huge difference like setting out a few pictures or hanging up some scarves (thinking of the post about hiding the ugly now, too). If it feels like "home," I always feel a stronger sense of responsibility to take care of the space, and I don't hate being there.

    I can't stand blank walls–and especially the echo that comes from all that empty space, so one of the first things I do (after unpacking essentials/major items), is get things up on the walls. Since we moved last summer, we have had friends come to visit who are surprised at how it looks like we have been living here for years. Huge contrast to when my husband had an apartment of his own for a year during grad school. Apparently the whole "this is temporary" look doesn't bother him…

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    • Thanks! I've got a huge painting itch though πŸ™‚ I figure I'll satisfy it by just doing the bathroom!

  4. OMG AMAZING I love the comic art, the kitty boxes, and: THE RAINBOW RUNNER. Where did you get that? (I need one right this second.)

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  5. Your bookshelves look like mines, crammed full and sorta like a tetris game.
    You know you are out of room when you have to start stacking them vertically πŸ™‚

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    • hahaha, yes!!!! My husband hates the vertical stacking but I'm always all, "BUT LOOK HOW MANY BOOKS I CAN FIT THEN" I will keep stacking them as long as I can!

      ….I used to work in a library, too, and used to have my books organized by the dewey decimal system because that's just how my brain works now. But I had to give up πŸ™

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  6. Ain't nothing wrong with vertical book stacking – I have used that method many times over the years when I was low on shelf space and couldn't part with my books! And while I never used the Dewey decimal system at home I have grouped everything in categories like in the libraries I worked in when I was in college. Hooray for former library workers!

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    • I know, it's so logical! And even though I worked in the library in high school, I still remember the numbers: 364.15 True Crime, 745.54 Paper Crafts, 822.33 Shakespeare, 940s History… just can't turn it off.

      • LOL – I worked in the library in college and learned the US Library of Congress system. The Dewey decimal system now bugs me because it's not the LoC system and I don't know it.

        I figure that if I have space on the floor or in a floor stack, I will aways have room for another book. It might take a couple of years, but I do get around to reading the "new" ones eventually!

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  7. Post like this make me go "My home is not offbeat enough!!" with the same panic I felt while planning my wedding and reading OBB.

    • Just like your wedding isn't a contest, your house shouldn't be either! It's all about being authentic to YOU!

      Also, it took us a really long time to get it to this point. For a really long time, our apartment was a cookie-cutter old building apartment with white walls and empty hardwood floors with stuff stored in banker's boxes. That was the temporary mindset, mentioned above… until I realized, hey, we LIVE here, we should be surrounded by things that make us happy πŸ™‚ That's the point of offbeat! Doing it for you.

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  8. This post weirded me out because so much of what you said and so much of your apartment mirrors my husband and me! We have a kid and we live in Toronto, but seriously – crazy similar!

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  9. I really need that rainbow rug runner! Source please? I also love the library wall, that's what I use my dining room for and it looks quite similar. Amazing joint!

    1 agrees

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