Home Reno

This bed is what dreams are made of.

September 2nd, 2010

Our bedroom update was awhile ago, but we didn’t get the chance to talk about our new bed! Since then, we’ve been hemming and hawing over whether we should. It’s not the most budget-friendly bed, but it’s an important purchase, and not one that should be considered based solely on price. At the mjölk shop we are adamant about investing in quality pieces of furniture, and a bed should be no different!

Apartment Therapy just started a series called “A Year in Bed“, whereby one of their writers is going to try a different mattress per month, for the whole year. As Maxwell suggests, we never really get to test drive mattresses when shopping. We’re usually sold on brochures and marketing schemes. If you’re thinking about buying a new bed, this is definitely a series to watch!

We unfortunately didn’t have much to go on when shopping for our new mattress. All we knew was that our days with Sleep Country Canada and Serta/Sealy were over (poor or pushy service, seemingly repetitive product, interrupted sleep, sore shoulder, stiff legs). Like Maxwell, we started the hunt with Hästens, more out of sheer curiosity than intent to follow through.

But before being wooed in their showroom, it was the comments on this AT post that lead us to another Swedish company called Carpe Diem. As luck would have it, a showroom up in Newmarket had just started carrying this brand. So off we headed to Goodnight & Sweet Dreamzzz. Best time to mattress shop? First week of January in the evening! We had Debi’s undivided attention and she accommodated all of our whims and fancies for a couple of hours. Unlike the monotony at Sleep Country, at Goodnight, they carry various brands that you can compare – yes, there is a touch of Serta/Sealy, but in between that and the higher end Carpe Diem, is Natura Organic, Kingsdown and at the time, Tempurpedic. Also apparently they are getting a new brand in under the Villsam brand, which will fall in the mid-price range.

We bounced from bed to bed, feigned sleepy time (with pillows and duvet to complete the experience), laughed at the crazy height of the more luxurious Carpe beds (you need to jump, high!), all the while knowing that the basic Koster model was what we would buy. Although I have to admit price was a factor–their beds literally double in price, each step up you take–we also liked how much lower it sits.

Since the beds are made-to-order, we dutifully waited the three months (has to be imported from Sweden as well). When our bed went missing at the border, Debi quickly fixed the problem by offering us a (luxuriously incredible) loaner bed until the one we ordered was remade and shipped again.

Never. Slept. Better. Like sleeping on a cloud. We are actually shocked at how different this bed is from all previous experiences. Now the only thing waking me up in the night is Isha alarm clock. Bad side effect, REALLY not wanting to get up in the morning.

We have many reasons as to why we bought this bed.

We love it’s simplicity (no need to buy a frame and headboard).

We love that they use natural materials, with no threat of off gassing (it has the Eco Label Swan Certification – did you know that most North American brands are sprayed with fire-retardant chemicals? Yuck!). It is completely handcrafted by one artisan from start to finish.  The pine used in the base is from the northern most part of Sweden from sustainable forests. Tongue and groove corner construction means no glue or nails.

We love that it’s customizable. You can pick from 5 fabric choices (we picked light grey) and 11 types of legs (we picked birch). In an act of rebellion against firm mattresses everywhere, we went with the soft mattress – apparently the level of firmness has nothing to do with support, but personal preference. If a bed is good quality, it should inherently be supportive! But since we were going for the basic model, we upgraded the top mattress to the Exclusive, which has a cotton-filled summer side, and a wool-filled winter side, just be safe..

We love that it has a 25 year warranty, with an expectation of it lasting 40 years. (I have already thrown out 5 mattresses in the last 10 years. Sick.)

We love that we finally get a great sleep every night.

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Office Space: It’s all coming together

August 26th, 2010

One of the best things in life has got to be those moments when you just stand back and give yourself a high five for accomplishing something.

That’s how we felt today.

Last night (even though it was the last thing we felt like doing) we took a trip to Home Depot to pick up some 10″ pine baseboards. We don’t have any tools in our apartment, so we went the easy route and got it all cut at Home Depot. I got to painting the base boards right away to let them dry over night.

Please note how terrible the room looks without baseboards before appreciating the after photos.

We installed the baseboards, and we’re slowly starting to add furniture.

We’re really happy that the messy office renovation is DONE! Now it’s all about making it organized and livable, adding things in slowly, and creating an efficient place to work.

You can already see the pile of papers collecting against the wall to the right. That’s because we haven’t found a nice filing cabinet! Does anyone know any good ones out there?

We’ve got some cool new desk accessories, and a shelving unit to come.
So make sure to check back!

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A house is not a home without art

July 15th, 2010

Our first art purchase in a very long time happened after I obsessively perused Melinda Josie‘s website one quiet Saturday afternoon in the shop. I came across her Dalahäst Blå and was happy to learn that it was still available. It’s really lovely in person, and I found the perfect spot for it in the bedroom, which happens to be the Dala zone. I love the spot by the door because I can see it from bed, and I see it every time I leave the room.

A bedroom side note: There is this weird nook in order to accommodate a window on my side of the bed. Our closet is in another room, so I recently grabbed a small Loop Stand which fits my heavy rotation summer wear perfectly. On the stool is a really cool Carin Wester top I bought in Stockholm three years ago and never ever wore, until yesterday! Don’t you love when that happens? I held on long enough to figure out how to incorporate in my wardrobe – usually waiting that long is a total bust.

These encaustic pieces by Beverley Owens are finally up on the wall. They were my first ever art purchase about 5 years ago!

My other first major art buy was this gorgeous piece by Joshua Jensen-Nagle. He’s moving his studio to the neighborhood so we’ll hopefully be seeing more of him.

This collage is by Aprile Elcich, from her The Royal Family series.

I desperately want to get a new frame for this modern piece. In the photo the old frame looks nice but it really drags the piece down in person.

There’s plenty more to hang, but this is a good start. And you know what, it really does FEEL more homey in here now.

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Bedroom finished!

June 30th, 2010

We knew exactly what we had in mind for the bedroom before we even started. We wanted it to be comfortable, clean, and above all else simple. We allowed everything to come together very slowly and made sure the decisions we were making would work beyond our bedroom when we convert the apartment into a family home.

Hope you like it!

We took a reindeer hide from the store for the bedroom, it has such interesting rib marks and colour.

A new edition to the room is the Le Klint 101 pendant light designed by Kaare Klint. It’s much better than an exposed bulb on the ceiling and adds a soft light to the bedroom.

We also thought it would be a neat idea to have the Libri shelf at the side of our bed. The leaning bookshelf has been copied many times but the Libri has a very special quality to it that the others don’t have.

We moved the Michael Lax Lytegem to Juli’s side of the bed so she could have a small light for reading. She was reading “The girl with the dragon tattoo” last night and I didn’t notice at all.

i-glass decanter designed by Timo Sarpaneva, and ceramic bird by Tapio Wirkkala.

A 1930s ceramic box from Royal Copenhagen that I got Juli for Christmas last year.

The most important addition to the bedroom was a set of Snow cabinets by Thomas Sandell & Jonas Bohlin. We finally have a place to put our clothes! And yes we do watch television in bed (sorry Oprah) we like to watch the Daily Show and Colbert Report before bed.

My little wooden tray I got in Japan is the perfect place to put my manly things at the end of the day.

The bird hanger from Icelandic designer Ingibjorg Hanna looks so cool on the wall. Maybe you have a piece of clothing you like so much you want to display it? Or maybe you’re like me and want a place to put your shirt before bed.

Tom Dixon is the creative director for Artek, and a while back he came up with the concept of white Aalto stools upholstered with Varvunraita fabric from Marimekko. We actually got the last 6 from the factory and we just had to take one before they all sold out! (If you want one we still have a couple in the shop)

The wooden splint basket is by Harri Koskinen designed exclusively for the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. I emailed them to see if they could send me one and whoever I talked to was nice enough to fullfil my request! It looks like it can perfectly fit a wine bottle, so I think Juli and I will have to take a picnic someday soon.

That’s the bedroom right now, hope you liked it!

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Plywood countertops

March 22nd, 2010

The old kitchen counter tops were a source of grief in the kitka kitchen. I (John) love to cook, and I just couldn’t go on with the fake granite particle board counters anymore. I needed a nice surface to work on, and since my cooking was already being compromised by an electric stove, I needed my wooden counter.

We first used plywood as counters at the cottage and were very happy with the result both aesthetically and financially. We even had some left over plywood from the flooring downstairs so the only material costs were the ceramic sink ($99.99) and faucet ($149.99) from IKEA.

The magisso kitchen cloth holder

A new item we’ve recently added to the mjolk shop, a cast iron grill pan designed by Sori Yanagi. I made some pork chops last week and the grill marks made all the difference.

We love our Kristian Vedel bird, and “mine and your” cups.

I applied three coats of left over Bona Traffic water based finish that we used on the floors downstairs. Each coat needs about 4 hours to dry and a light sand.

The birch counters added some much needed brightness, since our kitchen has no natural light. All we need to do now is rip up the floors and paint them white and we’ll have a pretty decent kitchen!

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White floors, surprise surprise…

February 16th, 2010


It took a few days but it’s finished! Our furniture was a bit too big to move out of the room so everything had to be pushed against the wall while one half of the room was painted, and then after the paint finally dried we moved everything to the other side to paint the second half.


It was well worth it. It just feels so good in here now!


We have our PH5 light looking great over the Saarinen table paired with a few black Lento chairs by one of our favorite designers Harri Koskinen. The shape has a familiarity but the legs are actually bent wood which fits perfectly with other Artek products.


We pillaged a few other things from our shop including the exclamation point which was reclaimed from a shop in Helsinki, it’s encased in oxidized copper. And of course the red Crux carpet by Pia Wallen.


We also grabbed a Pure Nature pillow by Danish textile designer Dorte Agergaard to cozy up tv time.


borge mogensen sofa-6

BEFORE: Red laminate floors – nice enough but generally clashed with our furniture (of course this photo makes it look way nicer) and made the room feel so dark, especially since we never see the sun.


AFTER: the room is so bright at night, and feels so much more cozy.

This is actually just the first half of the reveal! We put up something pretty exciting that we didn’t photograph yet. You’ll have to check back with us later this week!

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