Posted on June 08 2018
As I sit scribbling away to complete this blog, words from a local actor come to mind as he described his beautifully renovated new home: ..."Man, I never thought in my life, I'd be able to have something so cool..." We are not completely finished, but progress has been achieved in leaps and bounds over the last month.
Our front revolving door has welcomed the constant stream of trades people, curious neighbours, friends and family. So far the reviews are very favourable. It seems like just yesterday and forever ago we were able to excitedly remove and toss away the plastic barriers. We felt such a sense of freedom. But more than that, we knew we had crossed over that hurdle from mess to dress.
When I last updated you on the progress of our renovations, we were looking forward to getting our main floor painted. Unfortunately my thespian friend's schedule was unable to be aligned with ours. What to do? Of course I turned to friends, neighbours and social media. Luck was on our side as we got in contact with an old neighbour who answered our distress call.
As for colour, I always knew which was my favourite:
Benjamin Moore Cloud White, eggshell for walls, flat on ceilings, semi-gloss for trim work and doors.
This warm white just envelopes us in a blanket of creamy softness, which changes in hue and intensity throughout the day. Our house faces north, so it was important for us to chose a colour that would work with the cooler light at the front and the warmer light at the back and all points in between.
Before the painting could happen, we had the flooring installed:
Engineered birch hardwood with micro- bevel, 6 inch wide planks of varying lengths, low sheen urethane They came and conquered all in one day. I was very impressed with their fast and meticulous work. Sadly, we ran out of flooring. We did calculate correctly at the time: (length x width) + 10% extra for wastage. However, at the tail end of the demolition stage, we ended up removing the existing front entryway floor tiles. Once the adjacent walls were removed, the tiles were not square with the house and many areas had to be filled. I was so nervous while the flooring was being laid. What if all those months ago, we made a big mistake and we would not like it as much?! Well, it is beautiful. The look is a perfect compromise between country rustic and clean lined city chic, much like husband and me. Our choice was also a practical one as engineered woods do not flex nor bow nor susceptible to the varying humidity our house faces season to season.
But we only got to enjoy the flooring for 5 minutes before it was quickly covered up with heavy construction paper. The night before our kitchen cabinets were installed, husband and I could hardly sleep. The anticipation was too much to handle! Even though only the lowers would be installed at this stage, seeing those boxes being unwrapped was like Christmas morning! It took 2 days for this work to be done. We had sort of forgotten how beautifully clean lined the cabinet style is and how interesting yet simple the handles are. Husband's hands are like a catcher's mitt, so he and I both tried out all the styles at the showroom.
Before the installers even left, I was busy texting the countertop guy to schedule him to come and measure. My mantra for this renovation has always been - never let it be us who delays the process. Which did we chose? Quartz, Calacutta style with subtle veining, off-white base colour. No other type of countertop was considered.
We love how durable and versatile quartz products are. It is also anti-microbial, meaning no need to ever seal it as no bacterial will form on it, thus making this the perfect surface for food preparation. Hint: Avoid name brand quartz products. They will boast about their countertops being 94% pure natural stone with 6% resin and fillers and colours. It's like getting a shirt that is poly/cotton blend. You get the soft feel and breathability of cotton with the durability of polyester. We found that no name companies have the same composition without the sticker shock.
Hint: Non name brand companies also seem to have larger slabs. That means you pay less and your countertop will have less joins.
Where husband and I differed was the pattern or design. I wanted it to look like real Calacutta or Statuario marble. He wanted it to look more like natural stone aggregate. One marble pattern he liked I disliked, as the pattern reminded me of bluey-grey varicose veins! Our final choice was the marble look with less contract in colours/veining. A decent compromise!
Then it was time to schedule the kitchen installers to do the upper cabinets. Our kitchen design dictated 2 separate installations as we have 2 appliance garages which sit on the counter. We also have a wood surround detail that nicely ties in with the island (walnut) wood cladding. Then disaster struck one evening when husband was happily installing the ceiling speakers and I was in the shower. Water started pouring out of one of the speaker holes in the ceiling. I had to immediately turn off the shower tap, mid scrub. It took our plumber a couple days to come. In the meantime, we stopped using the second floor plumbing for fear of a repeat performance of Niagara Falls: A tragic story of a kitchen under water!
After a fair bit of head scratching and a giant hole in our bedroom wall, the problem was finally discovered in our en-suite toilet of all places - which was not even in use when the water poured out. Proves the point that when it comes to plumbing, you have to think outside the box, have x-ray vision, a keen deductive mind and a fantastic plumber who possesses all of these traits!
On the day the hole in the wall was cut for the hood vent, I unexpectedly terminated our relationship with our contractor. There had been a lot of unrest right from the start, to be honest. Every couple of weeks, we had to stop and evaluate what was happening and how we felt. In our situation, the workmanship was decent, but the personalities didn't mesh well, creating many tense and hostile moments. We had to quickly regroup.
The biggest problem facing us at the time was, how were we going to get the electrical work completed?! He was a sub-trade sent by the contractor. My cousin came to the rescue with his contact. We can now say that this hiccup was the best thing that could happen as progress ramped up and our new electrician is a star!
A couple of weeks ago, during a long weekend, he installed the final light fixture. How incredibly transformative good lighting can be in a space. We have all LED pot lights, ceiling fixtures and pendants. We had a lot of fun picking out the right ones for our home.
With open concept spaces, it's important to find ways to delineate spaces without walls. You can achieve this with clever lighting and rugs. Afterwards, we spent a painful week installing Tudor style MDF panelling on one wall, which harkens back to the age of our house and to off-set the modernity of the adjacent kitchen. It was hard work but well worth the final product.
So where are we now? We have uncovered our floor, slowly restocked our kitchen, moved some of our furniture back, wiped EVERYTHING down, took back our powder room (no longer the trades' truck stop) and are slowly putting on baseboards (another task which was supposed to be done by the contractor's man). We are also having some fun buying small accessories for the new main floor layout. I feel overwhelmed and grateful for all that we have achieved. But we are not done yet. Hoping to do another DIY project this weekend. Best moments so far: Laying on the floor listening to Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" blasting out of the ceiling speakers Cooking with ease in our new kitchen, loving the counter space and the wide, induction stove.