There has been a flurry of activity over at our house in these last few weeks. My last update – here - was after they had gutted the interior of the house. Well, a lot has happened on our house renovation since then.
First they peeled off all the brick. It filled a whole dumpster worth – which can actually be ground up and used as fill again, so it’s a “clean” dumpster – but not before I grabbed a brick to save as a keepsake. Not sure what I’ll do with that yet. Maybe use it as a bookend?
They were waiting on the excavation, so in the meantime got started with framing the second story. It’s only on the existing bungalow, so it looks rather tall and lopsided at the moment. Once the new garage is there (to the left of the house) with a second story above it, it’ll all make more sense.
Speaking of the garage, the excavators came and tore up our old free-standing one. Apparently there is a video of it coming down on our contractor’s phone. Need to hunt that down!
It has meant that our backyard all of a sudden feels SO much bigger. Sure there are piles of construction material back there, but we are totally starting to envision the potential.
After the garage came down, they took down a large tree that was in between us and our neighbour’s place. It was really starting to intrude on their house, and there was no room for our new garage with it there, so it had to come down.
And then a bunch of digging went on. All the way around our existing house to fix the foundation and put in weeping tile and draining systems (all of the old weeping tile had disintegrated), and then also to pour the new foundation for the garage.
On the inside, the new ceiling/floor system for the second floor started to go up, and a few new windows and doorways were cut.
As of this week they have poured the footings for the new foundation and back deck, and are working on the drainage systems around the house. Things are a-moving! I really can’t wait to start to get that garage up and see our vision start to come together.
I wanted to share the latest photos with you guys at our renovation site. Everything on the interior has been demo’d as you saw in-action in this post, and now that the debris has been removed (two huge dumpsters worth!) and everything cleared out, we were able to really get an idea of what this new ground floor space is going to feel like.
It’s totally crazy to see it like this. The house already feels completely different. No more bedrooms, or hallways, or blocked off kitchen. It’s just one big, bright and open space. There aren’t going to be big lofty ceilings like you see in these pics because we are putting the second floor on, but still, it feels so much more opened up.
We were able to walk around and plan where we might put a couch, or our dining room table. Imagined walking through the new front door. Cooking in a kitchen that has a stove from this millenium (ha!). It’s a trip.
Remember? Our turquoise door, the front closet, and the kitchen!
The bathroom somehow looks even more teeny tiny now than it did before. That space to the right of it (in the photo below) was Maya’s nursery/our office. Already hard to believe.
Up next? The guys are about to start peeling off the brick from the facade, remove the roof, and tear down the free-standing garage. There is no way we could be doing this part of the work ourselves, and we feel great about the experience and knowledge that our contractor and his team are bringing to the project.
If you happen to be a reader from Australia and have done any building projects, you might have gotten your industrial and building supplies at Gotstock. They are a well-priced online retailer that supply all kinds of things from electrical supplies, to tools, to hardware. They generously sponsored today’s post – so thanks Gotstock! And as usual, thanks to any of you readers who support the brands who support this blog. Love love.
Nothing like a construction site to get you all pumped up. Any of you demo’ing anything lately? It’s way easier to see the vision when everything has been cleared out, I find. Like a fresh slate.
Well, shit just got real. This renovation/addition we have been dreaming about since we bought our house in 2009, and planning and drawing for the last year, is legit happening.
Right after we got back from our trip to England mid-May, we packed up our house in lightening speed (thanks to some lovely family members who helped out!), and hired movers to get the majority of our stuff into a rented storage unit. Then we packed up a truck and car worth, and headed on out to my parents’ place in Merrickville – about an hour from Ottawa – where we have temporarily moved in. It’s actually really nice being out here. Dan’s commute now into town for work is a real bummer, but there are a lot of perks - a huge, bright two-bedroom, 1-bath basement to spread out in (the square footage is bigger than our whole house was!), having my parents around during the day to help out with Maya, and being out in this pretty country town over the summer. Once I go back to work, this whole renovation would have been way trickier to figure out (we probably would’ve had to rent an apartment in town), so doing it while I’m still off with Maya makes a lot of sense.
Anyway, back to the house stuff. As expected, everything with the bank and the permits has taken longer than was anticipated. That’s always how it is, isn’t it? I’ll get into more details on that whole process a bit later, but for now I really just wanted to share the photos of where things stand. You guys, it’s happening!
Here are some pics of the house once we had moved out. It looked dusty, and kind of sad, actually. It’s funny how as soon as the people and things you love are out of a house, it can suddenly feel like a bit of a lonely place.
And as of yesterday, it was looking like this (!!!!!).
Eeeeee! The excitement is pretty epic around here.
Sorry for the radio silence this last week, guys. Maya had the stomach flu, and then on the day she started to feel better, mama was down for the count! It was a doozy. Thank goodness for Dan’s strong stomach and grandparents nearby. Happily, we seem to be all recovered here for now, so life is getting back to normal.
Okay so I know I haven’t given you guys a renovation/addition update lately and thought it was definitely about time. If you’ve been reading along here for a while, you’ll know that adding to our current pad has been in our dreams for a while now. We love love love our neighbourhood and neighbours and want to stay put… but the 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom main floor of living space that we occupy is starting to feel pretty tight with Maya cruising around (reminder: we rent out the basement of our bungalow to tenants). I totally admire families who make it work in small spaces – you have to be so smart about storage and organization. I have to admit, I am having a hard time with it, lately. It seems like there is always clutter somewhere – even though I am constantly tidying up. How does this happen? I dream about having a big closet or even a room (!!) where I can shove things and close the door until I have time to deal with them. Even our recycling is constantly piling up and spilling out onto the floor in our kitchen. Anyway, enough with the moaning – I do realize how ridiculously lucky we are to own a home, and that it is huge when you consider home sizes around the world.
Our house – the first winter we lived in it
So over the winter we have been working with an architectural draftsman to draw the plans for our future house. Our hope is to keep the basement as untouched as possible (we renovated it in 2010), but pretty much re-do everything else, and add a whole second floor of square footage above our existing house and new garage.
Main floor – We’d like to put in support beams and take down all of the walls in our main floor to open it up. No more bedrooms on this floor – just an open kitchen, dining, and living space, with an office for Dan tucked in at the back. We also plan on removing the freestanding garage that currently sits on our property and building a new, attached one to the side of the house. This will mean that we can park our car and then come in through a side door, and our tenants would come through a door and hallway in the garage, and then down to their apartment. The bathroom on our main floor is just about the only thing that will remain. Although the kitchen footprint will stay basically the same, everything will have to be gutted and redone. Oh and we will be adding doors from the back of the house out to the backyard.
I drew up some seriously rough floor plans to give you a general idea. These are by no means to scale and don’t show windows, doors, closets, etc but they give you a sense of the potential space.
Second floor – Ahhh! A second floor! This is ridiculously exciting for us. We plan on having our bedroom + ensuite at the back of the house, and then 2 bedrooms for kids up at the front. We will also have a guest bedroom, but plan on using it more as a second living space/play room – kind of like what I imagine we would use our basement living room for if we didn’t rent it out. Oh and there will be a small area for laundry on this floor, a linen closet, plus a bathroom for the kids/guests.
And third floor? We aren’t sure if this will be a reality, but we are hoping to have a loft space in the third floor to act as a studio/office for me, plus as additional storage. We have been able to draw this into the plans and it doesn’t seem to have added a ridiculous amount to the budget/quote, so we are hopeful that we might be able to make it happen. Dreamy, I tell ya.
Exterior – The exterior will look pretty different. I don’t think you’ll be able to even recognize the bungalow that was once here (which isn’t a bad thing – I don’t want it to look like an addition, you know?). Since we are attaching the garage, and since our brick is currently in really terrible shape, we are going to do a mix of new stone and siding over the whole house. We are still making those choices, but I have a dark gray siding + lighter gray stone vision, with thick white trim around the windows and tapered white columns on the porch.
Here is a sneak peak at our drawings…
As for where we stand now, a few weeks ago we submitted all of the plans and drawings to the City department that handles permits. We are still waiting to hear back, but expect that there will be some back-and-forth until we have permitted drawings ready to go. We are anxious to get their feedback and see what we might have to change.
We are also still in the process of getting everything in line with the bank, so are hoping that the financing all works out the way we anticipate it will.
So those two things are what we are anxiously awaiting. We have chosen a contractor, who was recommended to us by a personal friend. He has a big crew, has done lots of large jobs like this, and his references were stellar. He is more or less ready to go when we are.
We are kind of in this weird limbo place, just sort of holding our breath. Will the permits be approved? How long will that take? Will all the financing work out as we have been told it will? If everything is indeed a go, we will be booking movers, a storage unit, and getting our butts out of here as fast as we can. But if things don’t work out? Will we have to wait another year? Maybe. We will of course be a bit disappointed and have to cross that bridge when we get to it, but it’s definitely at the back of our minds. We are trying to be cautious, but optimistic. We’ll see.
I will of course keep you posted every step of the way. In the meantime, since I haven’t wanted to do much around our place, I have been helping out a friend with her nursery, gearing up to help my parents’ with their bunkie at our cottage, and have a few small DIYs up my sleeve. I have been dyyyying to decorate a room lately, so I am super pumped to get going on these projects.
Have you guys done any architectural drawings before? Or dealt with City permits? When we did our basement, Dan was such a star with getting everything in order with the City department. We were pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was, and how friendly the inspectors were. Let’s hope for the same experience this time around.
Well, in case you didn’t know, that’s the only bathroom in our little pad. Yes, there is technically a second bathroom downstairs, but it’s in the basement apartment that we rent out to a tenant… so although it’s “ours”, it’s not really ours. Luckily it’s just the hubs and I – no kids, roommates, or other family/friends living with us, but still, being a one-bathroom household has it’s challenges. Case in point? When you want to renovate it.
I had a few people ask me how we coped with this during our reno, so thought I would give you a bit of an idea of some of our strategies, in case you are planning something similar in your pad.
So first off was to do some really careful planning. We timed the beginning of our reno – the demolition and removal of the bathtub when our tenant was going to be away for a weekend. This meant that we could turn the water off, make a lot of really loud noise, and (thanks to having a REALLY great tenant), use her shower at the end of the day when we were covered in dust and debris. We also planned to have our plumbing slash handyman extroadinaire friend give us a hand that weekend. The boys worked long, long hours to get the plumbing done and the new tub in. So come Sunday night, we had a demo’d room and a tub installed, but not much else.
The week that followed, we would come home from work around 4pm or 5pm, have a very quick bite to eat, and then go to work on the bathroom until 10pm or so. For those first couple of days, I showered at the gym and Dan went over and used some friends’ showers in the evening (not just because he was sweaty, but because usually he was covered in tile-cutter dust/water). We did this for a few days, but it got old. Fast. So we went and got some heavy duty plastic (it comes in a roll) from Home Depot. It’s probably usually used for painting, like a heavy drop-sheet, but we stapled it up to the drywall around the tub. Our tub was in and the plumbing was working, but we hadn’t finished the tiling around the tub. Yay – showers! They were sort of grimey showers, but showers nonetheless. We plowed through the tiling and got the bathtub all finished at the end of that second weekend. Once it was done we threw up our old shower curtain liner until we were finished the room.
The other particularly tricky bit was the floor tile. Tiling the floor meant removing the toilet. Removing the toilet meant we would have to pop a squat out in the backyard. No thanks. So again, this had to be really well timed. We chose a weekend day when we could go out and stay at my parents’ place for the night. We got all the floor tile ready and everything prepped, used the toilet for one last time, removed the toilet, and laid the floor tile. Then that night when we were finished, we booted it on out of our pad. The next day when we came back, we did the grouting right away (the tile had set by that time), and then plunked the toilet back down.
Other than those two big things that required some careful planning and timing, the rest was just more annoying than actually a problem. There were tools, tile, garbage, and various project things everywhere. There was dust on every single thing in our little house. Frankly, I’m still dusting. We tried to keep brooms on hand so that we could easily give things a quick sweep every night when it was time to call it quits, and an easily-accessible garbage bin.
Our other strategy was to try to keep all of the bathroom stuff in particular zones. We used the area to the right of our front entryway as a spot for supplies, and we used the office/guest bedroom as a spot for all of the bathroom furniture/parts and toiletries with no home. That meant we could hang out in our living room or go to sleep in our bedroom and not be surrounded by the clutter.
Our other strategy was to keep a laundry basket at our bedroom door for “reno clothes”. We usually just have a wicker laundry basket, but since we were going through so much clothing (it would get wet, really dirty, full of paint, etc), it was easier to just be able to dump it in this basket.
And that was about it. We made sure not to have any social plans for those few weeks and just basically plowed through it. On the one hand, it’s great to have only one bathroom because it forces you to move quickly. But on the other hand, it’s a pain and kinda stressful. Anyway, it’s over and we have a nice sparkling bathroom to show for it. Totally worth it!
What about you guys? Done any reno’s lately? Have any strategies about living in a reno zone? Do you try to continually clean up like we do, or do you just do one big clean at the end? I think my nightly clean doesn’t actually make much of a difference to anything but my sanity.
On a different note, it’s the LAST day for votes for the EQ3 Blogpodium contest that I’m a part of. I’m still trailing in second place by a few votes, and would LOVE any support! If you have Pinterest, please-oh-please leave a comment on my moodboard here. Every comment helps! Thanks guys.
So after proclaiming that the time had come to do something about our dated and dull bathroom on March 26th, we have done a complete overhaul of this small-but-important room in our pad. One month, a lot of elbow grease, a few dolla dolla bills, and we can (almost) call this one officially done-zo. The *almost* refers to still having to install the overhead fan and put in the floor transition (both on handy hubby’s to do list!).
In case you’ve missed the progress, here is what we’ve done to the space:
And before we get to all of those after shots, let’s just take a little stroll down memory lane and remember what this space used to look like, shall we?! Pretty non-descript, totally storage-deprived and a danky old tub.
Goodbye boring beige bathroom. Hello classic, bright, and fresh. She’s a whole new woman.
Let’s throw in a little side-by-side comparison for good measure. She’s come a long way, huh? Showering in that new bathtub is like a total dream.
And as always, here is the budget breakdown. You know we’re all about affordable around here. We had originally saved up $5000. We knew we wanted to come in under 5K, but were a bit worried about coming across some really bad plumbing or other major issues that would require us to hire a contractor. Luckily, other than having a bit of help from a plumber-friend, we were able to do everything on our own.
-tile (marble, subway tile, accent glass tile): $601.23 (originally $900, but we returned some unused tile)
-bathtub and fan: $364.45
-accessories (shower rod, towel bar, shower curtain, toilet paper holder, etc): $155.46
-vanity (wood, track system, legs, handles): $176.50
-vanity sink: $100
-supplies (tiling supplies, plumbing, trim, tools, etc): $900.26
-gift card purchased for friend who helped out with plumbing: $100
Grand total: $2608.73
But the best part? We had saved up some Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and IKEA gift cards from our wedding (thank you friends and family!), which totaled $1081.06 on gift cards. So actual moula out of our pockets was only $1527.67. Not bad for a complete bathroom renovation.
So there you have it. A top to bottom rehaul. I think the bathroom may now be my favourite room in the house!
What about you guys? Done any major renovations lately? Or fixed up a bathroom? Even just a coat of paint can do wonders!
We’re coming up to the finish line, folks. Painting the ceiling and switching out the light were more or less the last things on our “to do” list for this bathroom renovation. There are still a few small maintenance things – like adding the floor transition, sealing the tile, etc, but those don’t really affect the big “after”.
After painting all of the walls white, I was left wanting a pop of colour somewhere in the room, and you know how I love a painted ceiling, right? (check out this one in my hallway). I didn’t want to introduce a completely new colour into the small space, so I ended up going with the exact same greeny-gray shade as our DIY vanity (called Sterling by Benjamin Moore). You can see that I taped out the wall and painted a few strokes to get an idea of what it would look like.
And here is how she looked after two coats. The colour actually came out looking a bit more dark and moody than it does on the vanity (you’ll notice that the walls look more buttery-cream than white here, which is just thanks to the lack of natural light when I was snapping these pics!).
I’m really happy with it. It seems to bring the eye up and make the room feel taller and more spacious (a major bonus is such a small space!).
In terms of light fixtures, since we don’t have sconces on either side or above the mirror in the bathroom (and didn’t want to bother running new electrical to put them in), we needed to make sure we got a light fixture that would allow a lot of light to beam around the whole room. I fell in love with a few industrial looking fixtures, but they had shades that cast all of the light straight down. Bummer. So when I saw this guy, from the Debbie Travis collection at Canadian Tire for $50, I was sold. It was budget-friendly, a chrome finish (which ties in with the rest of the chrome fixtures), and had a clear glass shade that would cast light all around.
It’s not my favourite light fixture of all time, but it’s pretty and totally works with the space.
I also really like the crackled glass effect, which adds a bit of extra interest.
So that’s it! I’ll be back tomorrow with the whole roundup of after photos and budget breakdown. Hooray!
Hope you all had a good weekend. Get up to anything fun? I spent most of the weekend getting caught up with friends and doing my fair share of thrifting. Found a couple of good finds, which I’ll share later this week. I can’t wait for all of the spring community yard sales to start popping up – I love the treasure hunting!
So, I bet you thought it wouldn’t get any more exciting than patching walls on Monday’s post? Well, get ready, we’re going to talk about trim. Yep, this is a week of thrilling blog posts here on the sweetest digs.
Anyway, just bear with me. Adding trim actually made a huge difference to our in-progress bathroom reno. Here is how this half of the room was looking pre-trim. The doorway was pretty rough and there was the lack of transition between the wall and subway tile behind the sink (I forgot to take a photo of that area post-wall patching, so that big gaping hole did get fixed before the trim went up).
I had a bit of help with the regular trim around the doorway (thanks Dad!), but I handled some of these tricky bits solo. There were two spots in the bathroom that wouldn’t be able to have nailed-on trim, since they were partially going to be on tile. I consulted with some of my local hardware store buddies about what I might use, and they suggested this ultra-strong “PL Premium” glue. Apparently it bonds almost anything and is crazy durable. It’s also a-okay in rooms that may have some moisture (like a bathroom).
I cut the piece of trim to size using a regular old hand saw and then applied the glue pretty liberally to the back side. It’s kind of smelly stuff so I had the windows open for tons of ventilation and wore gloves too.
Then it was just a matter of placing it in the right spot and holding it on for a few minutes. You want to leave it un-touched for a good 24 hours while it cures. Looks so much more finished, right?
Oh and just so this post isn’t completely devoid of any pretty pictures, here is an updated peak of the DIY vanity with it’s drawers on.
The other piece was for where the shower tile butts up against the window trim. We needed a piece of trim that would wrap around the corner. Luckily, we found the perfect piece in the trim department and just cut it to size.
Again, I just applied the glue and stuck it down.
And here’s how that side of the bathroom was looking post-trim. All capped off and so much more finished. I was a happy gal, for sure.
You may have also noticed that the room was looking a little bit crisper and whiter. Well, that’s because I slapped up two coats of paint – ‘Simply White’ by Benjamin Moore in their Aura Bath series. I was a little bit worried about the matte finish, but it went on really nicely and seems pretty durable and washable.
That isn’t the end of my painting though. Since it’s all feeling pretty light and bright, I have plans to paint the ceiling in something other than white.
Here’s the up to date “to do” list to be able to check this room off:
install accessories (towel bar, shower curtain, toilet paper holder, new mirror, unit above toilet)
de-haze and seal the tiles
install new light fixture
I think that’s it, anyway. There might be a few more niggly little things that pop up. I can see the finish line on this one, though.. which feels great!
Doing corners and filling holes. Not one of the more exciting steps in the reno process, but I’m just keepin’ it real folks. This step always seems like it’s going to take all of 20 minutes and somehow becomes a multi-day project. We had a variety of patching to do in our wee little bathroom – fixing existing walls, working on the new areas of drywall, and filling some big gaping holes.
Let’s take a look at what we were working with.
One of the first things I tackled was the old walls. They had this weird subway tile pattern on the bottom half which at first glance looked like the real thing, but once you zoomed in you could tell it was just a painted vinyl. Not charming.
Since we didn’t want to rip down the walls and start over with new drywall, I figured I would try and patch them. I grabbed some handy dandy Polyfilla (the “prep” stuff is for smaller holes, and the “big” stuff is for the bigger holes.. duh!).
Basically you want to slap the stuff on and scrape it into the gaps, then go over it again to wipe away the excess. It’s kind of tricky to write into words, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly. Here is how the wall was looking post-pollyfilla.
Then you want to sand it down before doing any painting. I tend to use the block sanders since they are easier to grab than loose sanding sheets.
So that was one fix taken care of.
Next up were the corners. We had thrown up some new drywall all around our shower surround (see that here), so had to do something about the seams where the new met the old.
We grabbed some of this sheetrock flex metal tape from our hardware store…
… and a tub of drywall compound (or “mud” as it’s known in the drywall world).
Basically the flexible metal tape folds in half and fits into corners. We cut the pieces to size first, then put some drywall compound onto the wall, stuck the piece of tape on, and then layered more compound on top. You want to scrape it down and try to feather it out as much as you can. The aim is to get it to blend in with the wall.
Here’s how it was looking while it was still wet.
Once dry, you sand it down for a smooth finish (again, this is easiest when using the block sanders).
Last up was this big hole above the sink. We’re planning on putting a piece of trim where the tile meets the wall in order to make it look seamless, but knew that the trim wouldn’t quite cover that gaping hole.
Plain old polyfilla wasn’t going to be enough since there wasn’t anything for it to hold on to, so we used some of this wall repair fiberglass tape that we had on hand.
We cut it to size and basically just stuck in on top of the hole.
Then we put the drywall compound right on top of it. It was little messy and we couldn’t scrape it for a totally smooth finish (it wasn’t strong enough for that), but we just wanted to get that hole covered.
Once it was dry, we were able to sand it down and get it relatively smooth. All set for that piece of trim.
Remember those sanding blocks I mentioned? Well, there was a lot of sanding. Five blocks worth and a whole whack of dust.
So there you have it. Tales of patching holes and making corners. Thrilling stuff, huh?
Next up – trim, caulking, and then some paint. All of this prep work is going to make slapping that paint on feel oh so good.
So what about you guys? Do anything fun this weekend? Any super exciting wall-patching? ;)
After we built our custom vanity (which you can read about here), it was time to install that sucker. Goodbye, teeny-tiny wall mounted sink with no storage!
Remember how the Lillangen sink was practically bang on for measurements in our little nook? Well, once we held it in place with the vanity it just felt too close to comfort for us (like the door was *almost* scratching it as it opened/closed). So, we decided to knock out the drywall and bump it in a little bit for some wiggle room. We had a medicine cabinet in this wall already, so we knew there was some room behind the wall.
Just more dusty drywall. A typical day in the life of a reno. We put a piece of carpet down to protect our beloved new marble floors.
Then DIY Dan grabbed some sheets of drywall leftover from doing around the tub and cut them to size. Thank goodness for that handy hubby of mine. I feel like I can take on quite a few handy things around the house, but installing drywall just ain’t one of them. We tend to have “Dan jobs” and “Gemma jobs” (some of mine are things like wall patching, painting, caulking and tiling). Not surprisingly, he’s better at the rough stuff and I’m better at the precision stuff.
Then it was time to bring in the vanity and sink. We got a little nervous about the heavy sink sitting on a completely floating vanity, so ended up running out to IKEA and grabbing these stainless steel legs (used for the Godmorgon vanity.
Once again, DIY Dan did his magic and got it all drilled in and installed.
The modern, square-lined sink instantly made the room feel so much bigger. Such a long, lean beauty. Kind of like our own beautiful runway model (I think I might be falling slightly too in love?!).
We wanted to keep it simple and budget-friendly for the faucet. After checking out a few options at different stores (and being slightly shocked at how crazy expensive faucets can be.. !!), we ended up going with an IKEA faucet. Not only was it friendly on the purse strings ($49.99), but we knew the Rorskar faucet would be a perfect fit with our IKEA sink.
Oh, and we also quickly tiled the backsplash using all the same tile and process as our recent shower surround tiling. Three lines of subway tile with a pop of our glass aqua tile (we did a row of two instead of three this time since that’s what we had leftover).
Some basic plumbing later, and she was all ready to go.
So this was as far as we got. A functional sink, but still missing the drawer fronts and lots of patch work left to do. Since we pushed the vanity/sink back into the wall a bit, the tile comes up exactly flush with the old wall. We’re going to patch what we can of the cracked wall above and then probably just add a piece of trim to clean it all up.
I can happily report that we can now shower, brush our teeth, and use our toilet again without disruption. Just in case you wanted to know.
Things are humming along in our casa, so I’ll keep you posted on our progress!