5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Apartment (On a Budget)

If you fall prey to the time-honoured tradition of spring cleaning, you may inevitably fall into another annual spring home ritual: thinking that your place is actually pretty boring, and that it’s time to give it a makeover.

I usually partake in this by browsing expensive furniture sites until I’m depressed enough to give up,  but there actually are ways to give your living space a refresher without dropping thousands of dollars. We’ve got five of those ways here.

1. Go Green

Photo via rebloggy.com

Dare I say it, but plants are trendy right now. Adding a little green to your home is a great way to add some life to empty spaces and freshen up a cramped space. Some may go all out with plants, filling their places with mini-trees with huge, sprawling leaves, or with something nearly impossible to care for like orchids.

The rest of us are going the way of the succulent and it’s easy to see why. Succulents are affordable and relatively easy to care for. (They actually DO need to be watered, just not as often as other plants.) You can get some teeny-tiny fellas to pop into a windowsill and call it a day, or go with something a bit more extravagant. As someone who is terrible at keeping things alive and has two succulents, it is important to do a bit of research into their care before you get one. If I’m being entirely honest, both my plants have one foot in the grave at this point.

If any level of plant care is too much, there are always fake ones. And honestly, with some of them, you can’t even tell the difference right away. No care required, but your apartment will still look fresh and fancy af.

2. Art

Gif via Tumblr

Let me be very clear. When I’m talking about art, I’m not talking about art. I don’t mean you can finally put up that original Rothko you inherited or anything, but if you have lots of blank wall space, why not fill it?

Photo via Pinterest

You can decorate your walls with anything. Maps, photographs, old postcards. I have a penchant for space-related posters and charts. You could put up old movies posters (ask at independent theatres if they keep their old posters, and if they have any you can take). If you can find an antique market near where you live, a quick browse there could give you lots of ideas.

It’s a way of decorating your place, sure, but these are the kinds of things that make the place you live your home. It’s glimpses into your personality, your interests and likes, and it adds character to a place that could very well be boring.

3. Scent

Photo Source

You ever have that moment where you’re walking through your apartment and something just smells…off? Nine times out of ten it’s the garbage you’ve been meaning to take out for like, three days, or it’s your neighbours experimenting with cooking again. I’m a person who likes my apartment to smell good, if I can help it. I’ll open windows to get fresh air inside, I’ll spray Febreeze all over my pillows and I’ll light candles.

Candles are my way of adding a little extra to my apartment. They’re a really nice touch on a cool, rainy day and I always have one going when I’m expecting company. It’s the perfect way for people to assume you have your life together.

If you’re scared of fire or candles in general are not a good option for you, may I recommend diffusers, a flame-free way to bring scent into your space. If you don’t like artificial scents at all, there’s the option of sticking some bounce sheets into choice places: one in your bed, tucked into the sofa, behind a pillow.

Last but to leas,t may I reinforce, do not underestimate the power of opening a window. Getting a breeze going through a stuffy apartment is like an I.V. for the soul.

4. Revamping Your Furniture

Photo via Pinterest

No one can afford new furniture. Or at least some of us can’t. Most of the apartments I lived in while at university came with their living room and dining room furniture already there, and at the time that was a godsend.

If you are living at a place where the furniture was already there, or you’ve bought your own older, maybe second-hand stuff, there are still so many ways to make them seem new. Re-varnish your dining room table, or at least throughly clean it. Get a cover for your sofa, or even use a cool curtain you found at Value Village. This is especially helpful in covering up mysterious stains on couches.

If you have some cash to spare, pick up some throw pillows or a blanket to add some comfort to the living room. These things are also helpful in the event of unexpected overnight guests.

If your bed is feeling a bit old or unappealing, consider some new pillowcases or a duvet cover. You don’t have to break bank on bedding. There are so many places you can find affordable and nice stuff, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Society6, Urban Outfitters and yes, Ikea.

5. Storage

Photo via Pinterest

Every apartment has something akin to The Corner or The Chair, a place where everything that does not have a place winds up. It can be an eyesore in your space and is a black hole of miscellaneous paraphernalia. Event though you know what lies there, you can never seem to find it.

Storage solutions doesn’t sound fun. It sounds like buying a giant plastic bin and putting everything in that bin and leaving it in a closet somewhere.

What it can be is reusing items you already have or finding inexpensive alternatives for storing things. Leftover baskets or containers from market produce can be washed and used to store small things. At one of my old apartments, I kept my books in milk crates that I stacked on their sides to create a makeshift bookshelf. When you hit the bottom of a candle, freeze it and then scrape out the wax so you can use it as storage for jewellery, hair accessories, anything you need.

And if all of this is sounding a bit too crafty, I will once again defer to the ever-wonderful Value Village, or any local thrift store, where you can find storage baskets, containers and old shelving units. When it comes to fixing up your apartment on a budget, secondhand is the only way to go. But also watch out for secondhand furniture that may be haunted. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but I am saying I’ve seen Oculus and you were warned.

Review: Erborian Glow Crème

One of my favourite beauty trends from the last few years is, in a word, glow.

Go to any makeup store and there’s probably a display about shimmering blushes, radiant highlighters, and natural-looking light coverage foundations promising a “natural glow.”

Finding that right shine is a big task for many makeup lovers aiming to straddle looking radiant and looking sweaty. A good glow is a game changer. Finding that perfect highlighter can transform you from a regular human being to an ethereal, mystical creature. That’s a tall order for makeup, but tell me there hasn’t been days where you’re wearing a bomb highlight and every time you catch your reflection you think, Damn. 

So finding a fantastic highlighter is one thing, but what about an all-over glow? Hourglass has their Ambient Lighting powders, made to be worn on top of foundation on the whole complexion. The Burberry Fresh Glow foundation promises a dewy, straight from the gym look. There are even primers that promise an overall highlighting effect underneath foundation. L’Oréal has theirs with the Magic Lumi primer, and now Erborian has their own with their brand new Glow Crème.

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Erborian, launched in 2007, is a skincare brand created by Korean scientist Hojung Lee and French beauty expert Katalin Berenyi. Since the launch, it has developed a loyal following for its cult-favourite products such as the Pink Perfect Crème. It’s easy to see why — think of the most notable beauty and skincare countries, and you’ll probably think of Korea and France. A brand that combines the two? Consider me interested.

Erborian develops all of its products in Seoul and says that they are inspired by Korean traditions. I’ve tried a few other Korean skincare brands in the past and I will say, man, do they know their skincare.

Now, Erborian has joined the glow club with the Glow Crème. They describe the product as a multi-benefit cream that has an illuminating effect and blurs imperfections on the skin.

When I was reading up on the product, I did immediately think of the Magic Lumi primer, which promises a lot of the same things, except it is recommended to be worn with foundation, or even in select spots to highlight. However, if you do try the products side by side, you immediately see a difference in the formula. The Magic Lumi primer is much thinner in consistency and wears more as a liquid highlighter than an actual primer or face cream.

I was curious, then, to try out the Glow Crème both on its own and under foundation. Without foundation, I do have spots of redness in my complexion, as well as freckles and a few acne scars. The Glow Crème definitely doesn’t replace foundation, or even BB cream, but it did even out my skin tone, and does it ever make you glow.

I usually wear lighter foundations, so my face never really looks matte. For me, using the cream resulted in healthier-looking skin, like I had actually had some sun in the past few days instead of being stuck inside because of the never-ending rain. It created a gorgeous glow, even without a highlighter or shimmery finishing powder.

Is it worth the $42 price tag? Maybe. It does make your skin ridiculously soft and fresh-looking. However, it also depends on your skincare needs. While the Magic Lumi primer has a similar effect underneath foundation, the Glow Crème wears like a moisturizer. It makes your skin very soft but doesn’t feel heavy or slick. For oily skins it would be a better choice than the drugstore alternative, as other glow primers have made me breakout in the past whereas I’ve yet to have problems with the Glow Crème.

If you are looking for a little extra glow in your life, especially with summer around the corner, this is definitely one to check out.

In Canada, Erborian is available through Sephora. Find out more about the brand here. Continue following our beauty & lifestyle coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Novella’s May Art Guide

Beginning during the tail end of April, Scotiabank’s CONTACT Photography Festival will take over the city until June, spanning across venues and neighbourhoods. While there are still so many non-photography exhibitions happening in the city during this time, we thought we would shine a spotlight on photography to coincide with the festival. This is to say, we’ve sifted through a lot of the Canada-150-promotional-hoohah to bring you some truly excellent photography exhibitions that you should absolutely see. You know, if you have the time. We won’t make you.

EARS, EYES, VOICE: BLACK CANADIAN PHOTOJOURNALISTS 1970s-1990s (APRIL 27TH—MAY 27TH)

At Band Gallery’s exhibition, notable, award-winning photojournalists Jules Elder, Eddie Grant, Diane Liverpool, and Al Peabody show some of their most memorable work. These journalists documented the joy, changes, and tension found in the Black Canadian community in the 1970s and ’80s. Their photographs feature politicians, activists, protestors, musicians, and athletes. This exhibition is a powerful reflection on images of the past of the Black community and will bear new discussion through the lens of today’s society.

Find out more information here.

PACIFIER: PETRA COLLINS (APRIL 29TH—JUNE 24TH)

Toronto-born photographer Petra Collins, now based in New York, has made a name for herself through her beautiful work straddling the line between art and fashion. A regular at i-D Magazine, Collins has her own unique style of capturing light and the people it touches. This exhibition at the Contact Gallery is a homecoming for Collins, as it is her first solo Canadian exhibition.

Find out more information here.

SPACE WITHIN (APRIL 29TH—JUNE 3RD)

This group show at Walnut Contemporary features work by artists Ella Morton, Gonzalo Bénard, Hyla Levy, Maia, Katie Bruce, Nava Waxman, Heidi McKenzie and Teresa Ascenção. Curator Ibérina Raquel Vilehna created the show under the concept “space.” Each artist’s work interprets the concept in their particular way, through images of physical spaces to metaphorical spatial awareness and seclusion.

Find out more information here.

THE SUM OF ALL PARTS: JALANI MORGAN (APRIL 30TH—MAY 31ST)

Toronto-based photographer Jalani Morgan has made a name for himself through his national and international work exploring visual representations of Black life both in Canada and around the world. He has shot for Black Lives Matter Toronto, Nike, and The National Film Board, to name a few. His work is honest and stunning, and this exhibit at the Metro Hall should not be missed.

Find out more information here.

DE/GENERATIVE: OSCAR WOLFMAN (MAY 2ND—MAY 26TH)

Queen Gallery with be showing a retrospective on the late Oscar Wolfman’s incredible work. Wolfman, who was based on Toronto for his photography, is noted for queering Jewish religion and culture, representing his won experience growing up and living as a gay Jewish man. His work includes reimagining of biblical scenes and combining Jewish rituals with homoerotic subtext. Provocative, stunning and utterly unique.

Find out more information here.

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5 Must-see Movies from This Year’s Hot Docs Festival

There’s a reason we love documentaries: their beauty, power, influence and impact cannot be argued. They can cover any subject and be made by anyone, anywhere. There are no rules not really, except your movie needs to be true. Mostly true, anyway.

Documentaries can be transportive and awe-inducing, like the Planet Earth series or The Eagle Huntress. They can be unexpected and emotional like The Wolfpack. They can be terrifying, mystifying and ridiculous. They can also keep you up into the early hours of the morning, clicking next video after next video, winding up on conspiracy theory films about lizard people and the Illuminati.

I’m speaking from personal experience here.

It’s no wonder why we love watching documentaries and why events that honour them garner a fair bit of attention and excitement. I’m talking, of course, about the Canadian International Documentary Festival, which will take place at the Hot Docs theatre in Toronto from April 27th-May 7th.

This year’s festival packs a stellar line-up into its 11-day run. The documentaries being shown cover continents and topics. I can guarantee you’ll find at least one that interests you, but if you’re stuck, here’s our shortlist of some of the must-see documentaries playing during this year’s festival.

Becoming Who I Was

Via Hot Docs Box Office

Directed by Jin Jeong, Becoming Who I Was tells the story of Padma Angdu, an impoverished boy who discovers he is the reincarnation of a prominent Tibetan monk. The movie covers eight years of Padma’s life, from when he is banished from the local monastery, to his powerful bond with his godfather and journey to return to his rightful place.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Rat Film

So, there’s a documentary about rats. Specifically, there’s a documentary about how the infestation of rats in Baltimore is a problem born from the segregation of ethnic minorities into impoverished neighbourhoods. Directed by Theo Anthony, this film uses a city’s rodent problem to demonstrate the ways a society has failed its people in the most basic ways. Rat Film is not one to be missed.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Tiger Spirit

North Korea has become a modern boogeyman to the world, but Min Sook Lee’s 2007 documentary goes beyond the usual narrative of fear and dystopia to look at two nations struggling with closed-off borders and the after-effects of war. Lee also incorporates her own experience shooting the documentary while six months pregnant into the subject matter, asking the question of who is and isn’t allowed to report from unstable countries. In our current political climate, this documentary needs to be seen again.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Tokyo Idols

In a society where youth and celebrity are vital, Tokyo Idols is a highly relevant look at a culture that makes an industry out of these phenomena. In Tokyo, teenage idols perform lip-synch dance shows for an audience filled with middle-aged men who drop vast amounts of cash to be able just to meet and see them. Competition between the idols is fierce and the criticism from their dedicated fan base is relentless. Kyoko Miyake’s documentary dives into this world of fantasy fulfillment through following a 19-year-old performer and her 43-year-old fan.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Quest

Via Facebook.

In a basement in Northern Philadelphia, Christopher “Quest” Rainey and his wife Christine’a “Ma’ Quest” create an artistic getaway for their community, allowing young people to express their feelings and frustrations through song on “Freestyle Fridays” and serving as role models to their own children and those that visit them. Director Jonathan Olshefski shot Quest over a 10-year period, following the family in their day-to-day lives. It is an honest, hope-filled look at good people living in a country that is more uneasy than ever.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

 

 

Novella’s April Toronto Art Guide

For the month of April, we invite you to consider perspective: new perspectives or looking at something from a different one. Art is allows us to engage with perspectives we may not normally encounter, to use metaphor as a way to connect and understand. While these exhibitions are all vastly different in content, they will really make you consider your own point of view in contrast with that of those around you.

FEMME FUTURE: WRESTLING WRESIDENCY (MARCH 27TH—APRIL 9TH)

It shouldn’t be too hard to see wrestling as a tool for storytelling. Consider the luchadores of Lucha libre from Mexico: the masks, the dramatics, the history. Wrestling is, at its core, bodies interacting with other bodies and communicating through movement.

The League of Lady Wrestlers aren’t aiming to tell stories in their exhibition at the Gladstone Art Hut, but their goal is to convey ideas about feminine identity and empowerment through wrestling performances set up in the hut and a documentary by one of the league members. Intrigued? We certainly are.

Find more information here.

VPN TO IRL (MARCH 31ST—APRIL 29TH)

Think, for a moment, about every relationship you have online. Now consider what would happen if your interactions within those relationships occurred in real life. That’s part of the thought process behind the group exhibition at the Xpace Cultural Centre this month. The interactive exhibit, a collaboration between Ronnie Clark, Marlon Kroll, Sophia Oppel, and Timothy Truong, aims to construct a new reality around participants based on connections and constant feedback. The installation is looking at something we are only just beginning to skim the surface of in our own society: the ethics of the Internet and its consequences in real life.

Find more information here.

NAOKO MATSUBARA (APRIL 1ST—22ND)

Japanese artist Naoko Matsubara will be the featured artist at Abbozzo Gallery for the month of April. Matsubara’s reputation as a skilled printmaking artist precedes her, with accolades from Carnegie Mellon University and a previous teaching position at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Matsubara’s work is absolutely stunning and demands to be seen in person. Luckily for us, we’ll have the chance for a whole month.

Find more information here.

FOR THE LEFT HAND ALONE (APRIL 1ST—29TH)

Most of you are probably familiar with the phantom limb; the idea when the person who loses a limb is haunted by a feeling, maybe an itch or an ache, where the limb used to be. In her video exhibition at Trinity Square Video, artist Karilynn Ming Ho examines the phantom limb sensations as unrequited longing, as a way to navigate an increasingly disembodied world and our relationships to representations of bodies that are not genuine.

Find more information here.

[EXPLETIVE DELETED] (APRIL 5TH—16TH)

Think of a curse word. Right now. Maybe you can say it out loud, or maybe you can’t, because swear words hold context and connotations when used. Your character is usually reflected negatively by the curse word. But what about when we really need to say one?

We live in very strange times. Letting loose some expletives is, frankly, one way to cope with the madness of our current world. This is what visual artists Diego De La Rosa, Abbey Laura Pauline Gagnon, Greg McCarthy, and Dermot O’Brien are looking at in their group show at Gallery 50 this month. Through their own media, these artists will respond to the swear word-inducing times we live in.

Find more information here.

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