You’ve seen Lenna’s gorgeous cat litter boxes before. Now let’s explore the rest of her home…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Show me the decor porn!