Autumn knew what it meant to sign a lease. She knew that there was little she could change other than furniture placement. But for an interior design enthusiast, it was hard to keep the desire to design at bay after five years in the same apartment. “For a long time, I felt like I wasn’t really living in my space. I often felt like I was living half in and half out of my place, not really ever putting any energy into making it feel homey,” Autumn says. “After five years of ‘temporary living,’ I decided enough was enough. I wanted to love the space I was in, and I was willing to put a little bit of my own money into the equation to improve my overall living experience.” The place that needed the most love? The kitchen. “It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door to our place and the kitchen was very dated and cheap looking.” Shockingly, her desire to make her space more beautiful aligned with the landlord’s desire to increase rent for future tenants and the pair decided to split the cost of the $2,000 project. The kitchen designed and executed by Autumn brings light and energy to the basement apartment. Flip through the gallery for all the renovation details.
Advice for people thinking of doing the same: Be prepared for weirdness in the house. Our floor was not level by 1.5″, which wreaked havoc with a design that had no trim to hide uneven lines. Our contractor, Dave Rannala, actually jacked up one corner of the kitchen from the basement below in order to even things out. All the counters and shelves are totally level, but then there are all sorts of little things they did, like tapering the ceiling beams to hide the house irregularity. They did an amazing job. It is really important to have an experienced builder. Also, plan the layout beforehand and test lots of ideas. We did five different kitchen layouts before we settled on the final one. Doing that forced us to answer all the questions about the type and size of appliances and where the work stations would be. Those questions have to be answered at some point, but planning first meant that the actual reno was way less stressful. One final thing: Use simple, good quality materials that are timeless and bridge the modern and historic influences
Autumn, a digital strategist for Leon’s with a background in public relations and interior design, and her partner Bo, carpenter apprentice, took a risk right after college. Their jobs in the small town of Walkerton, Ontario weren’t fulfilling the couple so they saved enough money for a first and last month rental deposit and decided to move to Toronto. “Neither of us had jobs, or job leads. All we had was first and last month’s rent, a stack of resumes, and 30 days to either find jobs and stay, or pack up and go back home,” Autumn shares. They booked a hotel in Toronto and started touring potential apartments. “The first two were duds, so we were crossing our fingers we would like the third option — as we couldn’t afford to stay another night and this was kind of our ‘shot.’ Luckily, we really liked option #3 and without hesitation we signed the papers and moved in two weeks later.” The last-resort apartment turned out to be a great find with a massive backyard.