A room with a new view

This past February, I sat down to dinner in my kitchen with my husband and noticed a small, thin crack in one of the two windows.

The frigid temperatures that had swept across much of southern Ontario this winter had taken a toll on my old window. The tiny crack spread from the bottom window sill up to the top.

So, the decision was made and the window would be replaced. Since we were replacing the back window, we also decided to install a new back door. The old one was drafty.

You first heard about my unexpected home renovation back in early March. I’m happy to report that last week, the new window and door were both installed just in time for the beautiful weekend weather.

New Window & door
New Window & Door
New Window & Door
New Window & Door

My husband spent the better part of the weekend painting the trim and the door white to match. While I wasn’t planning on the added expense associated with replacing my old kitchen window and door, I’m happy with the new ones.

Now, the search is on for new window coverings.

Should I invest in shutters, shades or blinds?

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Kitchen makeover underway, hooray!

In February, I shared with you 5 simple steps to choosing the right kitchen contractor. The tips in the post are from Jeff, a long-time friend and colleague, who has started a massive kitchen renovation in his 2-storey, Brampton home. The remodel which is underway includes replacing the floors, cabinets, ceiling and everything else in between.

The demolition has begun. Here are a few photos from what is left of his kitchen:

Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine
Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine
Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine
Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine

While Jeff works on his ‘dream’ kitchen, my mother is planning a kitchen refresh. Her traditional-style kitchen was last renovated in the 80s and is in need of a new countertop, backsplash and a fresh coat of paint. After a morning of tile shopping, a neutral travertine backsplash and matching quartz countertop have been chosen to update the look of the kitchen.

Back Splash
Backsplash

The pink beige walls will be replaced with CIL neutral Sandringham. If all goes according to plan, the kitchen refresh should take 3-5 days.

Have your home renovation projects been on time or have the projects gone over schedule?

The votes have been tallied!

Here’s how you voted in the design polls:

How would you describe your style?

Preview

16 % Coastal

16 % French Country

16 % Other

What would you add to your backyard if space was not an issue?

IMG_0174

20 % Deck

20 % Outdoor Fireplace

20 % All of the above

Which room in your home would you make bigger?

Three-way tie between Master Bedroom, Kitchen and Mudroom.

Did you vote in my latest poll? 

Unexpected home renovations

Sometimes home renovations aren’t planned.

Two weeks ago, I sat down to dinner with my husband. I looked up and out the back window. And that’s when I first saw it.

A small, thin crack in one of the two kitchen windows.

The bitterly, cold temperatures that had gripped much of southern Ontario this winter had taken a toll on my old windows. Over the next few frigid days, the tiny crack spread like a snake from the bottom window sill up to the top.

Cracked Kitchen Window
Cracked Kitchen Window

And so it began. Phone calls were made to window installers. appointments booked and quotes received.

Then the question came up. Since we’re replacing the back window, should we also install a new back door and storm door? Our old ones are drafty.

Replacing the back window has now turned into a bigger project. A project that wasn’t on our “To Do” list. But it has to be done.

So, we’re biting the bullet and replacing both the kitchen window and door. Today, we met with the manufacturer. This is the same company that replaced my mother’s windows, two years ago, after one of her bedroom windows cracked.

We’ve decided on an energy-efficient, triple pane glass window for the kitchen and a simple white, back door with an internal grill. No need to replace the storm door because the new door comes with a built-in screen. But both have to be custom made. Now we wait until installation day.

It’s all part of owning a home.

 Have you been in a similar situation? Has a small, minor project turned into a bigger renovation job?

 

Read this before you redo your bathroom

Leslie Rocha and her husband are renovating their 1,500 square foot, semi-detached home north of Danforth Avenue. The couple’s first project was a one-month bathroom remodel.

“We started from scratch. It was a full gut job. The renovation included new plumbing, reconfiguring the layout, expanding the footprint and installing a new window,” said Leslie.

The house was built-in the 1920s and with older homes it has its share of challenges.

“The first challenge was the plumbing. We had to relocate pipes in the bathroom to make it work. Then the stack was in the way so, we had to design around it and decided to cover it. We also removed the low ceiling in the shower to allow for more natural light and to open up the space. The flow of the bathroom was cramped, so we decided to extend it by a foot into the third bedroom,” added Leslie.

After living in a construction zone for over a month, dealing with contractors and a messy house, the couple ended up with their “dream” bathroom.

The renovation was a learning experience for the newlyweds. In the months to come they will start to redesign the main floor of their home, but before they do they have these bathroom renovating tips to share:

1. Plan it out thoroughly. “We spent three months researching and planning out every single detail. We left extra money in the budget, so that we would have some wiggle room in case of unexpected surprises especially with such an old house.”

2. Pay attention to the small details. “Think about where you want to place the vents and outlets. Our contractor put an outlet above the sink and on the same wall as the mirror. Looking back now, it should have been placed on the opposite wall.”

New Vanity & Lights
New Vanity & Lights, Photo by L. Rocha

3. Look at your lifestyle and your needs. “I love the bathtub, but in the future it may be difficult to bathe our kids once we start a family.”

New Bathtub & Window
New Bathtub & Window, Photo by L. Rocha

4. Make it as functional as possible. “You want to have enough room to store your everyday essentials.” For more tips, consider these suggestions from the Style at Home experts.

Tell me are you thinking about updating the look of your bathroom? What’s the one must-have item?

Surviving a kitchen renovation

Last week, I introduced you to Jeff LeMoine. The father of two is about to take on a major kitchen redesign. But before he swings the sledge-hammer, tears down a wall and rips out his outdated cabinets, Jeff needs a survival plan.

The family of four will be without a proper kitchen for over two months. So, how will they survive the renovation without starving and at the same time keep their young children out of harm’s way?

“We’re planning the demolition to begin in the spring to take advantage of the nice weather. (fingers crossed) We have a big backyard and the kids can play outside while the contractors work inside. And we will rely heavily on the BBQ for meals.” Jeff and his wife have put a lot thought in how they will cope as a family without a full kitchen.

“We do have cabinets in the unfinished basement that we will use for storage and we’re moving the old microwave, oven and fridge down there as well,” added Jeff.

They won’t have a dishwasher and will use the laundry room sink to wash pots, pans and cutlery. They also plan to use paper plates to minimize washing dishes by hand.

“Luckily, we have family close by and we will take them up on any offers for meals,” said Jeff.

A massive kitchen remodel will obviously disrupt the natural order of things in the LeMoine household. “I think my wife will have the hardest time. I will be a close second. The mess will be hard to deal with. The kids will think its amazing. They are wide-eyed and curious. But we will have to be on our toes, keep them out of the construction zone and engaged in other ways.”

In the end, it will be short-term pain for long-term gain.

Have you ever lived through a major renovation? How did you cope?

If space wasn’t an issue, what would you add to your backyard?

How to choose the right kitchen contractor in 5 simple steps

Photo credit Jeff LeMoine
Photo by J. LeMoine

“We’ve known since we moved in that the kitchen had to go,” said Jeff LeMoine.

Jeff, a long-time friend and colleague, is about to embark on a massive kitchen renovation in his 2-storey, Brampton home.

“I would describe my kitchen as square. It doesn’t flow well. It’s impossible for two people to be cooking in the kitchen at the same time without stabbing each other,” joked Jeff.

“It’s pretty tight. We want to open it up, turn it into a central place in the house where everyone can hangout comfortably together,” added Jeff.

Photo credit - Jeff LeMoine
Photo by J. LeMoine

The renovation is a gut job and includes replacing the floors, cabinets, ceiling and everything else in between. When all is said and done the ‘country-style kitchen with a modern twist’ will be double in size.

“This has been a real learning experience for us. We’ve been talking about it for two years now.” The much-anticipated demolition will begin in April and fingers crossed, the kitchen makeover will be completed in two months.

It’s been a long road for Jeff and his family, but he has this advice if you are about to take on a kitchen renovation.

  • Take your time, don’t rush any decisions.
  • Ask a lot of questions, check the contractor’s references and their work.
  • Meet face-to-face with each contractor.
  • Be patient and open with your significant other. (You’re not always going to get what you want, unless you’re Jeff’s wife.)
  • Budget extra time and money for the project.

For more kitchen renovating tips, check out these recommendations from Consumer Reports:

Have I missed any tips? What’s your advice for picking a contractor?

8 must see ‘before & after’ home reno photos

The renovations of my first flip lasted two and a half years. It was worth it. I would do it all over again. Here are some ‘before and after’ photos:

Front Room - Before
Front Room – Before
Front Room - After
Front Room – After
Middle Room - Before
Middle Room – Before
Middle Room - After
Middle Room – After
Kitchen - Before
Kitchen – Before
Kitchen - After
Kitchen – After
Master - Before
Master – Before
Master - After
Master – After