Reveal: Part 6

Today’s reveal is the living, dining and kitchen space. What was once three rooms became one open space. We removed the wall separating the kitchen and living room which meant beams and engineers. Having lived in a few houses from the 60’s it is interesting to see the changes in layout over the past 50 years. You typically see larger living rooms and smaller, closed off kitchens. In my generation entertaining has moved from the living room to the kitchen…everyone wants to be where the action is.

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BEFORE The living room on move in day.

AFTER Along with taking down the wall, we also raised the ceiling. Because of how the 2nd floor addition was built, we were able to gain 14 inches. This created some wow factor to an otherwise boxy room. We also added a gas fireplace since we already had a line running to our fireplace on the 2nd floor.

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I skipped having sofas in the living room and just went with club chairs.

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BEFORE Just before we started demolition…all of our exploratory holes.

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BEFORE – Dining room.

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AFTER Though they look similar, we did change the patio doors making them smaller and moving them.

BEFORE – The kitchen did have some decent counter space, just not great for entertaining and needed updating since it was last touched in the 80’s.

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AFTER – Went as big as I could with the island. The longer we stayed in the basement, the more I increased our counter space. Love the room!

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Another thing we gained by removing the wall was light. The kitchen windows face south (hence the much needed blinds) and the living room north. The living room tended to be dark most of the time and now it is as bright as the kitchen.

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I used IKEA cabinets, went with ceaserstone for the countertops and backsplash. I did a lot of hands-on work in the kitchen building the cabinets and drawers (Contractors installed them), designed the range hood, installed the hardware (scary when you have to drill your own holes), shelving and blinds. Many hours spent in planning and work, but there will be many more hours of enjoyment.

Reveal: Part 5

The master bedroom, ensuite and powder room are today’s reveal. The original 1965 layout had 3 bedrooms and a main bath. When they added the 2nd floor in ’79, they took the 3 rooms and used one for the stairs and combined the other two rooms into a large bedroom and closet. We decided to leave the master on the main floor and reconfigure the main bathroom and closet area into a powder room, ensuite and closet. 

Below is a rough layout of the changes that we made. You can also see the changes we made to the kitchen and stairs. (next week’s reveal)

 Before - 1979 renovations
Before – 1979 renovations
 After - new layout
After – new layout

When we first moved in we were not sure where we were going to have our master. After living in the house for two years we had time to see how we wanted to live in the house. I am glad we took the time before make any major changes. The result is a layout that works well in our day to day living.

 Main bathroom just before demo
Main bathroom just before demo

We had painted the entire house when we first moved in as it had been smoked in. We also painted the bathroom vanity and replaced the toilet to make it livable until we started our renovations. Yes, that is 1980’s vinyl flooring.

BEFORE – This was the closet on move in day.

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AFTER – Stole half the closet and main bathroom to create an ensuite/closet. Used barn doors for better flow, privacy, and some design interest.

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Every square inch is utilized. On the right is a wall of closets. We saved a lot by using IKEA pax units though I wore out my arm spending hours with the drill putting them together

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Yay, for double sinks! I was not loving the prices I was finding for bathroom vanities, so I decided to use IKEA kitchen cabinets. The added bonus is that the vanity is deeper so you gain more room and it hides the toilet. 

BEFORE – Master bedroom just before demolition. Yes, we did have original hardwood that we had to rip out. Unfortunately is was beyond repair after years of nails and screws were used to remove the squeaks in the floor. This is why subfloor is now glued and screwed.

AFTER – We rewired the main floor which allowed us to put lights, plugs and switches exactly where we wanted. I was inspired by hotel setups where you can control your lights from your bed…a nice feature 🙂

I do like to mix high and low for finishings. I also went with a classic black, white and grey pallet. I like to change things up with accessories and I don’t want the finishings to look dated as trends come and go. 

Reveal: Part 4

Moving downstairs for today’s reveal…it’s all about the stairs. One of the things we didn’t notice when purchasing the house was how how short the stairs treads were and the lack of headroom in the stairway. After moving in we realized that the stairs would need to be replaced if we wanted to make this our long-term home. We think the reason the stairs were so steep is that the second floor is an addition (circa 1979) to what was a typical 1960’s bungalow. For some reason they decided to leave the original ceiling in place and basically just build another bungalow on top of the original one. I guess to minimize the footprint of the stairs, they decided to be “efficient”. 

 BEFORE - move in day
BEFORE – move in day

A few months after we moved in, Ian thought it would be a good idea to remove the railing since we were going to have do it anyway. It may have been a bit premature as we didn’t realize we would be living without them for a few years before undertaking this renovation. We got used to using the stairs without the railing, but my mom…not so much. 

 It's Friday night...let's remove the railing 
It’s Friday night…let’s remove the railing 

We did steal the railing off the back stairs and installed it after the first year of watching guests awkwardly navigate the stairs. For those who were brave enough to visit, we thank you for being careful and not suing us.

Our attempt to make it “safer”

It’s not so easy making stairs wider, treads deeper, and creating more headroom, however, we had a few things working for us. One was the fact the front door could be moved back to it’s original 1965 location. The other was the extra room between floors because of how they did the addition. We sought some professional advice to make sure it would be possible to fix the issues.

The first thing done when the contractors started was moving the front door. The door opened into the bottom of the stairs which as you can see from the picture made for a very tight entry. Not sure why the door was there, but it made it really awkward to move anything large into the house especially construction materials. The original location is much better!

Making this change allowed us to create a winding staircase. This was critical to create a longer run to our rise (that’s for the stair experts reading this). We stole some room from the bedrooms both up and down to widened the staircase. 

 BEFORE - sort of looks like a ladder
BEFORE – sort of looks like a ladder
 AFTER - huge difference
AFTER – huge difference

There is a fairly dramatic difference between the new and old staircase. Instead of having a staircase made offsite (commonly done), our contractors built it onsite. It was tricky because it was a winding staircase with lots of limitations on space. In the end the contractors did a brilliant job. We went from 9″ treads to over 11″, widened the stairs by 6″, and took out the floor above the staircase to create the headroom. It was a very exciting day when I first ascended the new stairs! 

The next step was building the walls around the stairs as well as the closet underneath. I didn’t have a plan laid out for the design, just some ideas off of Houzz. I wanted to see what the stairs looked like first, then I would design. With input from the contractors we landed on a design. I also wasn’t sure how I was going to finish the staircase, so I waited until the drywalling was done and decided I liked the open look so much that I went with glass. 

 Love technology...so much easier to communicate ideas!
Love technology…so much easier to communicate ideas!

This is what we ended up with. 

 AFTER (shelterspaces.com)
AFTER (shelterspaces.com)
  AFTER   (shelterspaces.com)
AFTER  (shelterspaces.com)

Yes, we did add a hand rail. We built a half wall to save costs, then splurged on the glass. I only have carpet on the stairs, so I went with a fun pattern to add some interest. I love all the closet space I ended up with under the stairs. Not only can I store our coats and shoes, but also our “junk drawers”, vacuum, luggage, and special beverages. 

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AFTER (shelterspaces.com) 
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AFTER (shelterspaces.com)

I really enjoyed the challenge of this project…lots of problem solving and creativity 🙂

Reveal: Part 3

This week’s reveal is the 2nd floor rooms which we use as our offices/guest rooms. First up is Ian’s office. As mentioned in my previous post, we closed in the wall you see in the shot below and installed a real door. We also reframed the closet so it was in the middle of the wall and reclaimed some extra closet space when we removed the old hot water tank chimney.

 

 BEFORE
BEFORE
 AFTER (shelterspaces.com) ... it would be great if he always kept it this clean ;)
AFTER (shelterspaces.com) … it would be great if he always kept it this clean 😉
 AFTER (shelterspaces.com) View of the closed in wall and new doors.
AFTER (shelterspaces.com) View of the closed in wall and new doors.

My office ended up having the most work done as one of its walls was rebuilt when we widened the stairs. I don’t recommend moving walls…it’s A LOT of work. Patching floors, ceiling, walls, running electrical to make it look like you didn’t do anything. In the end, we were very pleased with the result and the changes we made.

 BEFORE
BEFORE
 BEFORE - Easy to move a mattress with no walls or stairs to maneuver 
BEFORE – Easy to move a mattress with no walls or stairs to maneuver 
 New walls 
New walls 
AFTER (shelterspaces.com) That’s my “working” pose 🙂
 AFTER (shelterspaces.com) My view is Nose Hill (for those who know Calgary)
AFTER (shelterspaces.com) My view is Nose Hill (for those who know Calgary)

Our offices also double as guest rooms. We push the desks aside and bring out the air mattresses (it’s more comfortable than you think). I do have a spot ready for a wall bed one day, but my parents aren’t old enough for it yet 😉

Reveal: Part 2

Today’s reveal is the second floor bathroom. It was one of the rooms that had a dramatic transformation. Fortunately this was the only room with wallpaper, unusual for a 50 year old house. The previous owners went all out with this wallpaper, gold metallic butterflies. It also had matching brass fixtures…little did I know that brass was coming back.

We were originally going to wait to renovate this bathroom, but when we moved it we discovered the toilet was leaking so it had to go along with the vanity, and tile on the floor. We then replaced the toilet, vanity, painted and put down some vinyl click flooring. (See previous blog) This created a functioning bathroom while we waited for the big renovation. 

Since the tub and shower were functional (just ugly), we were going to wait to renovate sometime in the future. But the Contractor mentioned that it would be easier, less expensive and less messy to do it now. So we added it to the project and I’m very glad we did! Once you live through a messy reno, you really don’t want to do it again.

 BEFORE
BEFORE
 BEFORE
BEFORE

We kept the footprint the same (saves money), but re-framed the shower. This bathroom is quite large (135 sf), but had a very tiny shower (3×3). Since we had the ceiling open below, we were able to move the plumbing and more than double the size of the shower. It fits in much better with the scale of the room.

 BEFORE - lots of closets
BEFORE – lots of closets
 BEFORE
BEFORE
 BEFORE - adding the tub and shower to the project
BEFORE – adding the tub and shower to the project
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AFTER (shelterspaces.com)

We were able to reuse the toilet and vanity we installed a few years earlier.

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AFTER (shelterspaces.com)

Since this was not part of the original project, I went with low cost, simple tile. I changed the install pattern to vertical for the extra large subway tile. We don’t have a tub in our ensuite, so this my “spa”.

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AFTER (shelterspaces.com)
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AFTER (shelterspaces.com)

We also reframed the closet area so we could use doors instead of sliding mirror doors. It first seemed odd to have so many closets in a bathroom, but they are well used. 

We are very pleased on how this turned out especially with a tight budget. One thing we learned going through our renovation projects, that you do save money by having a trade complete multiple projects while they are onsite. This is where good planning pays off.

Reveal: Part 1

Yes, it has been 6 months since my last update! It has been a busy 6 months. It did take a while to get all the finishings and decorating done. Taking on the management this renovation project meant that I had to put a number of work projects on hold which were waiting for me once we were settled in. Also, the pressure for the reveal pictures were off once Mom saw the place 🙂

 BEFORE
BEFORE

I’m going to start “the reveal” with our second floor (as I’m still waiting on one last project). This floor was renovated in two phases and had the least amount of structural changes. It had an unusual layout for a 2-storey house. There was one bedroom, a giant wood burning fireplace, a bar, a large 4 piece bathroom, and an office with plastic sliding doors (on the right in the before picture). We liked the odd layout as it worked very well for our needs. We have our own business and work out of our home, so the layout was perfect for us. 

AFTER (ShelterSpaces.com)

In this room we kept the same layout, using it as our family room. Most of the updates were cosmetic. We replaced the carpet with hardwood right after we moved it as the house had been smoked in. I painted out the fireplace and Ian took care of the walls and ceiling. The lights, windows and doors, were also replaced.

 BEFORE
BEFORE

We kept the area to the right of the fireplace open and use it for business meetings or entertaining in the evening. If we want another room in the future, it may get closed off and turned into an office.

What you don’t see in the after picture is the missing balcony…next summer’s project!

 AFTER (ShelterSpaces.com)
AFTER (ShelterSpaces.com)

The biggest part of the 2nd floor renovation was replacing the stairs. In order to widen the stairs as well as create room so you didn’t bump your head, we needed to remove the bar and the bedroom closet backing onto the bar.

 BEFORE - stairs and Ian's future office
BEFORE – stairs and Ian’s future office
 BEFORE - wet bar
BEFORE – wet bar
 PHASE 1 - after we moved in and just before we demolished the main floor.
PHASE 1 – after we moved in and just before we demolished the main floor.
 This is what happens when you need to widen your staircase.
This is what happens when you need to widen your staircase.
 AFTER (ShelterSpaces.com)
AFTER (ShelterSpaces.com)

After we widened the stairs, we built a half wall to keep the stairs open. I replaced the wet bar with storage which was more useful for us. The interior doors were also replaced. You can see that we closed the room off at the top of the stairs for Ian’s office. The doors behind the sofa are the bathroom and my office/guest on the right. We squared off the wall that was angled into my office creating better flow. 

I’m out of time for this blog update, so you will have to return to see the rest of the 2nd floor 🙂

Seeing the Finish Line

The end is in sight. We have had most of the finishing trades through, the contractors have “moved out”, and I’m sleeping in my new bed. It was a very busy January and February to get to this point. Not only did we have a revolving door of trades, but Ian and I were both hands on for this part of the reno. Ian had all the walls, trim and doors to paint (rolling and spraying) and I had to build the cabinetry, install hardware, and supervise the mayhem. Not to mention all the cleaning, organizing and moving up from the basement.

Now on to the highlights…

Right after the tile was installed, we had our hardwood floors installed. We ended up going with site finished floors which I was thrilled to be able to customized my stain color. Our finisher was very patient with me as I took a few hours tweeking the color. We went with a white oak floor and mixed three colors of stain to get the right color. We are very pleased with the result. 

 We had 4 installers come in on a Saturday and they were done that day :)
We had 4 installers come in on a Saturday and they were done that day 🙂
 The staining process.
The staining process.

Next up was cabinetry. To save lots of money, we went with IKEA for the kitchen cabinets, bathroom and closet cabinets. Though this saved us a ton of cash, someone had to installed them…that someone being me! Building the actual boxes isn’t all that bad, but when you have to build about 50 drawers, that get’s old really quick. Added together, I think it took a week of my life. We love the end result, but I think I will pass on the IKEA installation career.

 Me and my drill and tons of screws. (The blue plastic is just protecting the cabinets)
Me and my drill and tons of screws. (The blue plastic is just protecting the cabinets)
 I spent a lot of time in the closet
I spent a lot of time in the closet
 Too bad I have to share
Too bad I have to share

Meanwhile Ian spent all non-work time painting. He sprayed the trim and doors and rolled all the walls. Once the trim is installed, you have to go around and caulk the gaps and fill the nail holes…another fun job for Ian.

 Touch ups...never work for your wife ;)
Touch ups…never work for your wife 😉

During this time we also had our lighting fixtures installed. I was rather nervous as I did the lighting and electrical planning myself and had no idea how it would turn out. I put everything on dimmers to be able to control the light…love dimmers! The lighting turned out well….phew.

The most difficult light fixture to install. (I had to leave the house) After the electrician was done, he held the “scaffold” for Ian to do his painting. I made sure to use 20year LED bulbs!
 Our hats off to any couple that can work together :)
Our hats off to any couple that can work together 🙂

We also had our stair rail installed, stained and lacquered. Because you need some expertise with lacquer spraying, we had a painter do it. We are using glass instead of spindles…you will have to wait for the reveal pictures to see that.

The picture below is probably my favourite. Me supervising and men working. Progress is happening and I’m not getting my hands dirty. It’s so much easier doing renos this way. Remind me to go and purchase my lottery ticket. 

As you can see my countertops are being installed and I’m a day away from setting up my kitchen. The guys did a great job with the installation.

 My happy place
My happy place

The next day post countertop installation, came our plumber to install all the remaining fixtures. I missed getting a picture of his daughter one of the few females who worked on our house. It’s pretty darn exciting to have toilets and running water! As an additional bonus, I no longer have to share my toilet. After 8 months of guys working on my house, I think you know what I’m talking about.

One of my custom projects was our range hood. There was nothing in my price range that I liked, so I ordered a cabinet vent and had my contractors build one. It’s nothing fancy, just a box, but that’s all I wanted. The paint spraying credit goes to Ian. It’s too bad my oven doesn’t fit, or I could be using it right now (not everything goes as planned).

 Starting to look like a contractor. Me with our contractors taken on wrap up day before xmas.
Starting to look like a contractor. Me with our contractors taken on wrap up day before xmas.

Though I build the cabinet boxes, our contractors build the bases and installed them. I don’t like the IKEA toe kick system and I knew that it would be a challenge to get everything level…so I was happy to pass off the installation to them. We installed our basement kitchen ourselves, which is why I knew we needed professionals for this project. They also took care of installing the trim, doors, casing and the rest of the long to do list I threw at them.

Now that I have my house back to myself, I’m moving on to the pretty stuff. There is still a to do list of things that need to be finished, including the exterior which the neighbours keep asking me about (ha, ha). So it will be a few months before the reveal pictures and parties start happening. We are enjoying our new home and the stress is starting to fade though replaced with the bill paying stress…funny how that happens.

Highs and Lows of Renos

I’m overdue for a blog update, mostly because I/we hit our reno wall. I got really cranky during the holidays which indicated I hit reno fatigue. I’ve noticed that it is a common occurrence in many renovation blogs I’ve run across. The postings and pictures stop as you are trying to hurry things up because you have had enough living in the chaos. Even though I knew it would happen, I thought I was more prepared to handle it. Nope, I said bad words, was not a nice wife, and shed some tears.

Now that we are past the drywall stage, we are juggling the multiple finishing projects. They are all happening at the same time, so everyday I wake up and hit the floor running. There is typically some trade working away and at this stage there are so MANY details! 

 Ian spraying for the 2nd time
Ian spraying for the 2nd time

The first thing we tackled was spraying the ceiling. Ian bravely took that on. We went with a paint finished ceiling which takes extra care to make sure that it looks great after. Lots can go wrong so we were nervous taking this on. We were happy to see it turned out great. Until, a drywall crack appeared and then the paint crackled in a number of corners. This meant the drywallers had to come back, skim coat and we had to repaint the ceiling AGAIN. We found this out a few days before Christmas…crankiness starts.

Meanwhile the tilers are ready to go and want to work during the holidays. Since we are not ready to host family anyway, I’m happy to keep things moving along. The tiler arrives and we discover the ensuite shower tile has a manufacturing flaw and I have to scramble to get something else. I had spent a lot of time picking out that tile, so I didn’t have a “plan B”. After reviewing my Pinterest pins, I find something else. Ian rushes out to get it before the holidays. After compromising on the tile pattern and the grout color (I’ll stop boring you with the details), I’m learning to love it. Hindsight, I should of had a meeting prior with the tilers on my selection and made my tile selection sooner. Lots of lessons learnt. But, this added to my crankiness.

 2nd floor bathroom
2nd floor bathroom
 Ensuite
Ensuite
 Hardwood getting acclimatized 
Hardwood getting acclimatized 

We also had issues with our hardwood selection. The pre-finished option I selected was backordered. So after scrambling around the city to find something I like, we ended up going with site finished floors. Now I can pick the stain of my choice. Other than dealing with the site finishing mess and delay, I think I will be much happier with that option.

A few projects we have been able to complete are door and trim spraying (beautiful finish compared to rolling!) and painting the 2nd floor. Our goal before Christmas was to make it livable so that we could have family over for a visit during Christmas and move our offices up stairs. We were able to host a dusty brunch, but getting to that point was super stressful. I was so excited to get the family room set up and the floor washed, only to get up the next morning to a thick layer of dust. I didn’t realize the dust created from tile installation…another lesson learnt. 

 My closed office door (nicely painted) with my attempt to block the dust. And yes, that is a toilet in my family room.
My closed office door (nicely painted) with my attempt to block the dust. And yes, that is a toilet in my family room.

During the holidays, we were able to get our offices moved upstairs. They are not pretty enough to post pictures, but having somewhere to work with a door to shut out the mess has cured most of the crankiness 😉 We also got to enjoy a couple of fires relaxing up the family room.

When I take a step back to look at the big picture, I realize that the chaos will end and there are more important things to focus your energy on…such as God, people, and health. Reno setbacks are just part of the process. I’m realizing the importance of pacing yourself during a large reno and making sure that you have people and things that you do that recharge you. I admit it’s a battle for me to let go of the small stuff and focus on why we are doing this…a place to connect and live life with others.

 

 

Snowing inside and outside

We are almost ready to put the drywall dust behind us. After a month of boarding, taping, mudding, sanding, mudding, sanding, priming and touchups we are eager to start painting. We had a good crew of boarders and tapers, so things went as smoothly as they could for drywall. It is really exciting to see walls and how all the decisions you made along the way turned out. We are really pleased with the result, especially the raised ceiling and stairs.

We (I mean Ian) are finishing up with priming all the ceilings and walls. Just a few touchups after that then we can move on to painting and finishings! Exciting days ahead as things come together and we get our home back 🙂

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