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?


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

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?

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?


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?

Which room in your home would you make bigger? Vote now!

How a natural disaster turned into a small, spa retreat

The July 2013 storm flooded my mother’s bungalow. She was one of hundreds of thousands to find approximately four feet of water in the basement. You or someone you know may have been in a similar position.

Very little was salvaged from the flood. It took months to clean and renovate the damaged basement.

Renovating the bathroom was one of the many projects I took on.

‎The dated bathroom from the ‘80s got a facelift. The oversized, wooden cabinet was torn out, the tiles ripped out and toilet replaced.

The look of the new bathroom is now modern and with a spa-like feel. Muted grey, porcelain tiles for the floor, white subway tiles for the stand-up shower and Benjamin Moore, London Fog paint for the walls.

Bathroom Faucet
Bathroom Faucet

A new, espresso-coloured cabinet from IKEA was installed, with white sink, a chrome faucet and matching oval mirror.

The finishing touches included fluffy, white towels to match the trim, a soft, smoky grey bath mat and lavender hand soap.

What started out as a disaster slowly turned into a retreat.

Renovated Bathroom
Renovated Bathroom

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

The secrets to house flipping

Over seven years ago, I took the plunge and became a first-time house flipper. I was obsessed with the TV show, Flip This House, and watched it religiously. I thought to myself, I can do this. And so began the journey.

The house was a two-storey, semi-detached, Victorian fixer upper. It sat on a quiet, tree-lined street in an upcoming neighbourhood with nosy neighbours. The house had a lot of charm, including a stain glass front window, original hardwood flooring throughout and a claw foot bathtub. But it was in need of a lot of work.
It had absolutely zero curb appeal. The rickety front porch would need to be replaced. Walls would need to be torn down to create an open concept. Every wall in the house repainted to cover the hideous peach paint colour. The carpet on the stairs would need to be torn out, steps and risers sanded and painted. A tiny closet in the master bedroom would need to be removed and replaced with built-in closets. Every light fixture and faucet would also go. The un-kept backyard had to be cleared to turn it into a livable, outdoor space. It was no small feat and would take the better part of two and a half years.


First, the budget. How much would I need to spend in order to turn a profit? My real estate agent helped determine the going rate for comparable homes in the neighbourhood. It was up to me to figure out how much I was willing to spend to renovate the house. The magic number would end up being $45,000.

Second, the master plan and timeline. What was I going to renovate and how long would it take to get it all done? The master plan was a long one and it included; a rebuilt front porch, open concept living room/dining room, built in closets, new light fixtures, new kitchen and bathroom faucets, refurbishing the claw foot tub, painting the entire house, new siding, sod for both the front and backyards and a flagstone patio. I would live in the house and aim to have it completed in three years.

Third, the help. How much could I do on my own and when would I need to hire a professional? The smaller projects, I took on my own with the help of my husband, family and friends. The bigger, more complex projects, I would need to hire a professional.

I worked full-time, so every evening, weekend and vacation time was spent renovating the house. It consumed my entire life.