Monthly Archives: April 2013

Paint Patrol

We have to have to have to choose paint fast. The taping and plastering only needs one more coat, then it will be time to prime and paint.


kitchen / family room


my bestie

D. and I are a little anxious because it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that we had the opportunity to stop by our local Benjamin Moore to sample eleven(!) different paints. Frank wants our final choices by Tuesday night so that everything stays on track, so D. and I stayed up until the wee hours coating poster board on Saturday.


Benjamin Moore’s old navy and kensington blue.
Too dark for a dark hallway?


Clockwise from top: BM’s woodlawn blue, cloud cover, ocean air, edgecomb gray and bunny gray.

 I love all of these colours, but they looked quite different on both the posters and in the space.


Benjamin Moore’s Ocean Air and Edgecomb Grey

The bedroom paints have been chosen, but we are having a hard time deciding on colours for the common areas, like the front hallway (to go dark, or not to go dark?), the kitchen/family room and the upstairs hallway.


Half and half?

Its a good problem to have – choosing between these pretty aquatic hues above for the en-suite – both of them would do just fine, but which is the best? Is it you, athabaska? (sic)

IMG_1010or you, silver marlin?




Silver marlin:


Unrelated: they popped the sun tunnel in! Let there be natural light up in that main bathroom! Its not *as* much light as I’d hoped for, but its certainly better than no natural light at all. Tip: don’t stare up into the tunnel. I tried that today and it was really dumb because the tunnel is mirrored in order to reflect the greatest amount of light possible below.  It was really, really bright.


So bright, in fact, its making this bag of insulation look a little saintly.


Closing Up (with drywall)

We arrived at the house to meet Kate at around seven in order to make some finalish commitments to tile and other finishes for the upstairs bathrooms. It was still light out, so I got a few progress shots of the family room and kitchen before sunset.IMG_0969


family room

There were still three people working in the house at this time of evening. I asked Andy about it and he said the tapers and plasterers were coming tomorrow, so they had to finish up as much drywall as possible.


east wall from inside the kitchen


pantry (left) and family room looking west
from the kitchen

We were meeting primarily to hammer out final decisions for tiles in the upstairs bathrooms. Last time we tried to do this were thwarted by a lack of electricity (so no light) and a really dismal sky so it was too difficult to make out precise colors. It got dark pretty quickly after 7:15 or so, but we had already made most of these choices for the ensuite bathroom:


en-swweeeet finishes!

The he left-most tile is a marble mosaic called “North Star” that will go on the shower floor only, the tile below it will be on the floor except that the shape will be elongated and arranged in a herringbone pattern. I prefer this over large tile, which can get slippery when wet. The wooden plank is the door front for the vanity, and the white variegated tile beneath that is for the shower walls. Those are Kate’s feet and shoes (of course they are, they look very designer-y).

I mentioned before that the shower gets no natural light but that’s not entirely true. There are no windows but it gets a good amount of sun, especially in the evening, from the bedroom which has both western and northern exposure.

It isn’t a full post without a gratuitous pic of the new hallway, is it?


my bestie, the hallway, looking east from the master bedroom

While we were upstairs, we discussed some eleventh-hour changes that D. and I made to the upstairs main bath. Originally, we were going to use more playful finishes and colours, but once we saw the space take shape we decided we wanted to so do something slightly more sophisticated. I think we can still make it fun with the details. The biggest change will be the floor tile, which has been narrowed down to one of these:



Here is the upper tile in action on a bathroom wall:

grey wall tile for the bathThat’s a Sarah Richardson-designed space. It is beautiful!

Paint was up next, for the entire house! Frank wants to know paint colours now because once they are done plastering, they paint the walls. Who knew? I honestly thought this was the absolute last step. I mean, they still haven’t done floors yet, but I suppose it makes sense this way. Better to drip on the sub-floor than onto newly stained hardwood, right? We have our marching orders from Kate – we have to sample several colours on the walls this weekend, making sure to visit them at different times of day to see how they change with the light. D. ‘s golf crew pick up this weekend for the first time this season. Hrmm…I sense a solo trip to Benjamin Moore and someone’s forfeiture of choice! 😉

By the time we wrapped up our design meeting upstairs, it was nearly 9:00 pm and the guys were still there! Clearly they were working on a deadline because LOOK at what they managed to complete while we were chatting away about tiles:

I saw the biggest smile erupt on D.’s face during this visit, it was the most inspiring expression I’ve seen from him on this dirt-pile of a construction site in almost a year. And he’s the optimistic one! But also? I could barely contain excitement either.

Taking Shape

Closets have walls


fashion me!

Hallways have walls


trust me, its a different picture.

Bathrooms have tubs


just a little on the tubby side.

And the ensuite is being prepped for jets and other shower hardware.


but the green has to go.

The faster that work is getting done, the more I am wondering if it will end up being me and D.- and not our contractor and his crew  – who end up holding things up (sshhh). We ordered the kitchen only two weeks ago, and I forgot to order the appliances this week. Also, despite having sat on decisions like this for nearly a year, we still don’t know exactly what our vanities for the ensuite and the family bathroom will be.

I blame the plethora of choices available! And also (I guess) the fact that D and I are compulsive researchers. Its not enough for something to look good, it has to function well and rate highly on consumer indices. And if we read just one bad review….trouble! We hem and haw about our decision and invariably end up dead-locked, paralysed.

But you know what normal people would do? They’d probably just buy the sandwich and eat it. Anyhow, here is a picture of the bathroom in our previous home:

old house bath

previous home’s bathroom

I found the storage tower and of the storage in general in this vanity to be tremendously practical. We used to use one part of the tower for towels and the other two shelves for keeping what D. calls my “collection.” Most female readers (and perhaps some men) will know exactly what the “collection” includes. Mine is sizeable, and will not be parted with or pared down.


“Yes, I need all of these things for all of the years!”

So yeah, storage is essential in whichever vanity ends up in this space. I will be perfectly happy with some sort of modified version of the old vanity (which is currently the working plan) but we still have to choose a door front and a countertop. That’s just one decision. There is also: paint colours (this one is making me slightly anxious), light fixtures, door hardware, carpet type & colour for the bedrooms (narrowed down slightly today at Lowe’s), wood stain for the floors downstairs, tile for the entryway, and I think at least a half a dozen others.
Its good that everything is all busy-busy, it just means we have to be decisive from here until the finish…




This is a post about progress.

The drywall is going up pretty swiftly!


upstairs hallway looking west.

Sun tunnels are being put into place! This is the bathroom looking south towards the top of the tub…and the new light tunnel! The green drywall is built especially for bathrooms, probably something to do with moisture.


family bath

And check this out– another green room, the new ensuite!



I am not sure if I posted a picture of the eastern wall of the house before. The white brick is where the old window used to be, in the powder room that was just off of the kitchen.


east wall of house from patio

But there is no powder room there anymore, its all kitchen. Here is the new centered kitchen window. The man who is doing the brick work also did our foundation. It may be hard to discern from the picture, but the craftsmanship is impeccable. And look where the “old” window used to be…you’d never know!


beautiful new window!


kitchen, family room view.

This is what the window looks like from inside the kitchen. So much light! And closer up…


As you can see, dry-walling has not yet begun on the main floor. There is still a lot of work to be done here, like building a new staircase and framing and insulating the kitchen and family room before drywall goes in.


kitchen and family room

Apparently the next stage is taping and plastering the drywall upstairs. Everything looks so different now. Its hard to believe that window was in the bathroom before!

Hey Y'all, I'm just one view of the guest bedroom!

guest bedroom

Owning the dark hallway

Our front entryway / hallway is going to be dark. I suspect that when the house was originally built the back window (the one that now faces our neighbour’s brick wall) was actually unobstructed. To the right and to the left there will be light but there is not a lot we can do to get light into that hallway.

The previous owners replaced the front door with a solid black steel one. It’s nice and it doesn’t look very old, but I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t choose something that would add a little light to this area. But since we are not planning to replace the door, and there is no other natural light in the hallway, I have been thinking about maybe just loving it for what it is – a dark hallway, and perhaps playing up  this feature deliberately by choosing deeper, moodier colours. I like the look of this navy hallway except that we’ve decided not to paint the wood wainscotting, like they’ve done here:

Here is another example of a nice dark paint in the hall, but again, I wonder what it looks like with the unpainted trim.

Maybe something like this? I think I could do this. Its amazing what a little white paint on a brick fireplace can do to add some visual interest. It would go with our white Ektorp, for sure!

I guess this is a good example of dark. No wood trim, but with all those browns, close enough.

Question: if I were to paint the hallway dark blue, would I have to extend this all the way up the stairs? Because if I did, it would look almost identical to this on the second floor:


Here’s a refresher:IMG_0835



We learned that our neighbours are upset about the state of our front and side yards, and I hardly blame them. They are riddled with debris and refuse from the basement due to the foundation work, and we can’t hide it very well because we live on a corner lot. I am embarrassed about this; its a true eyesore, and I haven’t had to look at it everyday. The last thing we want to do is to disturb the neighbours.  A lot of the debris was actually frozen into the earth from winter, so there was not much to be done about this but now that the thaw has come, clean-up really can’t wait.

We felt the need to apologize to our neighbours and so we wrote this letter and will deliver it tonight.

Dear Neighbor,

It’s [us] from [our address] (aka the construction site on the SE corner of [this street] and [that street]).  First of all, we wanted to thank you for your patience while we’re in the midst of this long and protracted renovation.  As we mentioned to those of you we have spoken with in the past several months, we ran into two massive structural issues that derailed our original, smaller-scope plans. The worst of these involved a city-issued work order that compelled us to replace the entire foundation of the house unexpectedly, as it was literally crumbling from within. You may recall that the house sat dormant for many months. Much of the delay was attributable to revisiting the structural engineering plan and obtaining various permits from the city and trying to work with our insurance company. This took time.

We are aware that the work site has been less than tidy and that the disposal bin and our front and side yards have been an eyesore, as well as an invitation for illegal dumping and random bin “treasure hunting.”  We have had a discussion with our contractor with respect to these issues, and have requested that the work site be tidied up and that the bin be removed when it is full (and tarped when it is not full and not in use).

Our projected return to the house is June, at which point we will be making full effort to fix our landscaping and ensure our home returns to its previously well kept state.

With regard to bin removal – it is schedule to be removed Tuesday, April 8th.  To facilitate this, (to the extent possible) it would be helpful if the street parking is cleared across from our garage, as we have had issues in the past with having enough space to remove the bin.

These have been some difficult times for us and we truly appreciate your patience during them. I would like to invite you to reach out to us in the event that you have any concerns regarding the work, or if something is bothering you how the work is being done.  We can be reached at _____ at any time.

We look forward to moving back home shortly and reintroducing ourselves to everyone on the street.  Once again, thank you for your patience and understanding.

Thanks and kind regards,