The Renovation: Before and After

The great thing about having a lot of people over is the motivation it provides to tidy up. If it’s a few friends, I can usually let stuff slide — after all who doesn’t have piles of papers, books, a selection of Elsa costumes and the last three years’ worth of kid-crafts spread all around the kitchen? (Or is that really just me?) But when it’s a whole bunch of people — children, parents, old friends, new friends — well, the hubs and I both felt we should at least try to tackle some of the clutter. As we […]

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Weekend Projects: the bookcase

Between the two of us, the hubs and I have a lot of books — school books, law books, favourite reading books. We also “inherited” a lot of books from our parents: some beautiful old volumes we treasure … and more than a few slightly eccentric selections from the book of the month club circa 1973. Still, we love having books around the house and want to instill in our kids a love of reading. To that end, we wanted to make our sunny living room into a reading and music room. We’d thought about installing built-ins but decided […]

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Kitchen renovation: What worked and what didn’t

We’ve been in the new house for almost three months now (!). Most of the boxes are unpacked, much of the furniture has found its new spot — for now! We’ve still got contractors coming to nearly every week in drive and drabs — a new painter touching up the mistakes from the first, a new plumber to fix the oversights of the earlier ones — but inch by inch, piece by piece, it’s coming together. Of all the spaces in the house, I think I agonized the most about the kitchen. Designing the layout, choosing the appliances, granite, […]

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Before & After – Part 1

Ever since we moved into the new house three weeks ago, I’ve wanted to photograph and talk about the renovations. The only problem? I’m still in the midst of unpacking. As anyone who’s ever tried to take photos of houses knows, clutter is really distracting to the lens (and your sanity !).  Every time I’ve picked up my phone to snap a few shots, all I can see are piles of boxes and bags of stuff strewn about the place — not exactly an idea way of showing the place in its new-found glory (?)! Plus, we’re still trying […]

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A Bittersweet Goodbye: the Farewell House Tour

The signs are up, the photos taken, the lock box attached–our house is officially FOR SALE! It’s exciting to be actually on the move (again) but I’m quietly dreading the process of showings (always too-little notice) and negotiations (always late at night). I’ve spent the better part of the week cleaning and arranging, de-cluttering and touching-up to get the house ready for the photographer and the open house this weekend. When it was as ready as it was going to get, I went around snapping what will likely be the last pictures of the current house. Though I know […]

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Home remodel : before and after

In architect-speak the new house is a “reverse walk-out bungalow”. That’s just a fancy way of saying that because the lot is lower in the front than in the back, the lower level has full-length front windows but none in the back. When it was built in 1969, the architect evidently worked with the so-called cascading lot (another fancy term that really just means “awkward”) putting in big windows at the front and sides. He also had a bit of a Frank Lloyd Wright vibe going on: larger rooms in the front receded into smaller rooms in the back […]

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The Champagne / Beer conundrum 

Our contractor sent me to pick out our banisters and railings with the strict instruction “do NOT choose the most expensive thing in the shop!“. Apparently he’s figured out the challenge of my (design) life — having champagne taste and beer money. But off I went and dutifully informed the sales consultant of my contractor’s advice. “Ok” he laughed, “no solid gold staircases then” He still talked me into ordering stain-quality maple rather than paint-grade hickory because the latter will dent. Maple is sort of golden but not 24 carat! I looked longingly at the sleek glass inserts for […]

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6 BIG mistakes from our first home renovation (and how you can avoid making them too!)

Back in 2005, the hubs and I bought our first house together. Being young(er) and naive, we thought we’d live there for 20 years and raise our family there. Except as the adage goes, when people plan, fate laughs; we ended up selling it just 4 years later! We put a lot of love and sweat and tears into making that house our home. Along the way we learned a LOT about how to work with contractors, how to manage budgets and what we’ll never do again! Originally, we bought the house because of the great lot: it was […]

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Inching home

The demolition on the new house is now complete (!) and we are starting to rebuild (!!). Ripping apart has a big “wow” factor but the rebuild often seems to just inch along. But so far, there is still perceptible daily progress as the framers have been hard at work putting together the outlines for the redeveloped rooms. Here the wall between the den and the living room is being created … on the floor. The guys will raise it to the right vertical position soon but this keeps it straight and true. By borrowing space from the awkwardly-shaped […]

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Pano-panopoly (with Before and Afters)

I have a confession to make: I’ve only just now discovered the pano function on my iPhone. Up until now I thought it was weird a light metre (whoops!). Then I saw someone use it and gave it a go for myself.  I love how it gives a view of a whole room at once so have been trying it out at the acreage with gusto. I notice it does better with small rooms, but I couldn’t help myself with some of our larger spaces, even if they do seem a bit wobbly! This is the yoga/Pilates room I […]

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Demolition Derby

The demolition continues at the new place. The stairs are getting replaced and all the flooring is being ripped out of the lower level. There’s still a LOT of work left, but with each day, something new opens up and gets closer to what the final plan looks like. Though we were apprehensive about taking down walls at first, seeing the space open up has been fantastic. It’s as though the house is waking up from a forty-year slumber, shaking off the heavy plaster and dark trim and taking on a whole new life. I just hope what we […]

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Before and after

We had a showing for our house this weekend (!). We kept it informal as we’ve not listed it yet, so we didn’t vacate as we normally do. Instead, the hubs trotted out his rusty-but-still-serviceable real estate agent skills and gave a bit of a tour. In the course of talking about and trying to remember all the things we’ve done to the place, I started to look through the “before” pictures. No wonder our friends thought we were crazy when we first talked about buying it! It really was in rough shape! In the living room we repainted […]

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Design IRL

When I watch designers on tv, they seem to put together beautiful rooms and colour schemes almost effortlessly. They seem to just know what fabric will work where, what kind of countertop, what sort of tile. Yes, they are professionals and it is their job to make it look like a cinch. But they also live in major cities with access to all the best, newest and latest and also have big tv budgets. And as a result of the exposure such shows bring, I’m pretty sure they face few of the timing or supply issues that us mere […]

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Insta-kitchens and pinspirations

  The hubs and I have been working on remodelling the kitchen in the new house for a few weeks now. The space is a tricky one: it’s long and narrow, with two large windows and very little wall-space. There is also a walkway that runs the length of it providing access between the dining and family rooms, so the design must also allow movement of people (big and small) efficiently and safely. Now that we’ve removed the wall that separated the kitchen and dining rooms (see above), the house feels very open but we have a new challenge of […]

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Clutter-buster

I’m exhausted. I spent the day hauling the last of my in-laws’ things into the garage, sorting what could be sold or given away, purging what I could, and packing up what we wanted to keep. Why me, the daughter-in-law? Mainly because the house and all its headaches will belong to the hubs and me in a few months, so I’m trying to get ahead of the curve and limit the amount of clutter I “inherit”. Both of my sisters-in-law have already said they don’t want any of the “memorabilia” that’s left. I don’t blame them. After all, there […]

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7 suggestions for designing a new kitchen

The hubs and I have been talking about kitchens A LOT lately. And we’re not alone. It seems as though every time we mention the renovations in the new house, we discover someone else is also planning a facelift or in the midst of one or just finishing. In the course of these conversations, we’ve been able to share the tips and tricks we’ve learned — often the hard way — and pick up some great new ones as well. Here are what I think are seven of the best ideas and observations to keep in mind when planning […]

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