Monthly Archives: May 2013

Progress Post, Floors Edition

Floors went down this week! Its  a little difficult to tell because Frank has them mostly covered to protect them from the future traffic on the new stairs. Once materials and equipment are delivered to the basement and the kitchen cabinets go in (next week!), they will stain and finish the floors.


kitchen looking east from family room

I haven’t chosen a stain yet, but I am closely considering Minwax Dark walnut or Special walnut. Or maybe Provincial? I think Jacobean might be too dark. It looks great on the board but I’ve read that very dark floors are, paradoxically, hard to keep clean and Dexter sheds like crazy.


In the meantime, however, this part of the house is looking more and more like somewhere someone might one day live. A lot of the trim work has been done, but I notice some top and corner pieces have yet to be fastened.


looking north towards stairs in the kitchen.

See that door in the corner? I am really happy with this. Remember the old door?


barely functional!

Boooooo! That old door was made of very thin wood. I think it may have even been hollow! It didn’t close properly nor did it have a proper lock, and those panes were not actual panes, but rather  a sheet of plexiglass nailed to the inside. It was a very bad door. The new door is made of steel, contains real glass panes,  is energy efficient, and came to use at the low low sale price of $152! I suspect it will be one of the more appreciated upgrades to this pile of bricks to date. Score for fashion and function in the kitchen!

Upstairs in the ensuite we have this  pattern on pattern tile that is kind-of blowing my mind…


pattern-on-pattern crazy!

except I am not sure if I mean that in a good way. Of course I will hold back any (potential) regret for once tile is grouted, the shower glass has been installed, the vanity is in place and all the details have been affixed. Its just that right now it  looks a little confused to me – stay tuned.

The main bathroom, on the other hand, looks just as I imagined it would and I love it:


sunflower marble thassos. The jewel of this room!

The countdown is for real this time on: we’re moving back to the house (I am not ready to call it home yet – I don’t really feel I have ever lived here, as it is) on June 21st. There is a lot of work to do before then, and there will still be a few finishing details to be worked on after we take up residence.  But as long as we can take a shower and cook a meal, I think that will be a minor nuisance we are willing to put up with for a while in what has been a long awaited home (house?)-coming.


Piece by piece

Its amazing what a little tile can do. Everything is brighter, lighter and looks more like the thing it is supposed to be, and not just like ambiguous construction caves.  Like this, for example – this is a bathroom. The main bathroom. 


subway tile, railroad pattern

Or this. This is the ensuite shower.  Seeing this shower in particular inchworm its way towards completion has me feeling hopeful and happy at the thought of one day using those body jets against the wall. I had almost forgotten about the body jets!


coming along!

There are still details to be worked on and  grout to be poured of course.


North Star marble mosaic

Doesn’t this new hallway look all old-timey? We asked the contractor to repurpose anything that was still in good shape. That’s the powder room door in the foyer, and the panelling was repurposed from the old hall.


hallway on main floor

This is what was there, (or not there) before:


hallway on main floor, destruction version.

Breaking NEWS: The staircase is in! The ‘CASE is IN!  I asked the guys if I could  finally(!) walk on it and they said yes, because it was wrapped (not shown) and so I did, cautiously, as the wood is still unfinished. I must have been descending really slowly, like I’d never walked on stairs before because one of the guys kept shouting: “Be brave! Walk bravely on those stairs!” It was a funny moment, and it felt pretty good. Everybody laughed. And laughed and laughed. “Geez, those stairs took a long time,” I was thinking to myself as I laughed with them.


and she’s buying a stairway…for the kitchen.

The posts for the rail are still being put into place. There will be two more posts: one on the corner and the other will be where the rail meets the wall. We’re not sure yet whether we will stain them the colour of the hardwood, or paint them white.


And speaking of decisions to make, here’s one:


the real question is which colour best camouflages Dexter’s fur?

We’re carpeting the upstairs hall and bedrooms the same colour so I need to choose something neutral, and preferably without yellow undertones. In leading place are the colours in the first row, fourth and fifth ones down. “Crushed shell” isn’t bad either, its second from the bottom on the first row.  Lighthouse seems the best neutral perhaps.


lighthouses are decidedly beachy.

Next up: more tile and grout.


what do you think?

Progress post, May 11, 2013

Tile arrived this week!


Mt. Tilestone

Here’s hoping we made good choices!


sunflower marble thassos for the main bathroom floor.


white marble hexagon for the ensuite floor

Seems this was the week of the kitchen staircase. Building the new set of stairs is a lot of work! In the meantime, we have two gaping holes to contend with.


brand spanking new!

Looks better than the old stair case, which now leads down to about two feet above ground.


out with the old

The old staircase had been painted many times.


At least five coats of paint and a bunch of sand.

Here is a shot of the new staircase from the bottom platform. There are very few windows in the basement right now, but the light from above helps brighten up the area near the stairs.


Superfun landing.

And moving up, all the way upstairs to the second floor – check out this cute closet in the guest bedroom! There wasn’t a logical place in this room for a “real” closet in here, since its oddly-shaped so Frank suggested a little cubby instead. Just a little place to put away messes.


or maybe I was meant to be a built-in bookshelf?

I am very eager to get this window in, or maybe just to punch that cardboard out. I can’t wait to see the quality of the light that comes into this room!


The shower shelf was constructed this week also. Its not very deep at all, I hope it can hold shampoo bottles! There will be two compartments separated by glass or tile in the middle.


Moving back downstairs, sheathing has been laid for the front entryway / hallway. The plan was to lay white tile here, but we made a last minute decision today to lay hardwood instead. How dark will it be? Maybe dark, but it will help unify the space.


hallway looking east towards the powder room


voted off this weekend.


The tile is pretty and goes well with the grey on the walls. I am sure Kate had good design reasons for choosing it, but in the end hardwood makes more sense to us. Its warmer, for one thing, and it will help us achieve some unity on the main floor. If the darkness is a concern, we can always brighten up the floor with a light runner. D. even agreed that if we think it looks to dark when all the work is done, we can paint the woodwork white. I thought that was a fair compromise.  There’s going to be a lot of wood.


Hey I just hang here, and this is crazy. I’m really heavy. So paint me maybe.

I just hope the grey still makes sense on the walls.

What have we here? Oh, its D. standing dangerously close to one of the gaping holes! That’s the new stair opening with a glass rail. It didn’t occur to me until today that glass is going to be tricky for me. I mean, if I can see down and thorough it, will it always evoke those debilitating fear-of-heights feelings? I sure hope not. It will be “cut” by four wood posts, so maybe that will help.


kitchen from the family room.

I am pretty excited about this. Its the new kitchen pantry and I’m certain it will be awesome. D. and I like to buy in bulk, so this is a bit of a dream come true for us. Yup,  a couple of trips to Costso will dress ‘er up real nice! Right now it looks like the holding area for the stringers and risers and treads and such.


Up next…tile work, stairs and hardwood floors!

Oh colour, you tricky beast!

We thought we had you all figured out but colour, you defy me! How is it that “edgecomb gray” reads beige in all this light?


I did a lot of research on this colour before committing to it: I studied hundreds of pictures, read all of the design posts I could find, painted a cardboard sample of it and mulled it over for a few days – even visiting it in different rooms and different lights, at last reckoning that there was absolutely enough natural light in this space to have it read a soft gray. I’m not thrilled with this at all. After all the time we spent choosing the perfect cabinets, back-splash, pendant lights and counter-tops I thought I had conceived a fairly accurate picture in my mind of what the kitchen was going to look like, and it was not beige.

Maybe I am being a little dramatic about what is (essentially) an easier fix, but I feel like all my years of poring over magazines to whittle down my ideal version of a kitchen to the components as chosen have been for naught. Well…there is  one wildcard factor yet to be played out  in here – the window on the east wall is at least another month away from being popped into place and right now its hidden behind drywall, so there may still be hope. PLUS Kate and D. love it. Hmm.

Colour was up everywhere except the master bedroom, which I’ll talk about in a minute.  Here is a shot of the guest bedroom in “woodlawn blue,” which I loved as soon as I laid eyes on it but its not blue, its more of a seafoam green. Tricky!


My camera phone is not doing ‘woodlawn’ any favours here, but its actually very pretty and welcoming. Perfect for the guest bedroom.

Here is a shot of the front entryway, the back and side walls painted with Benjamin Moore’s “cement gray.” Kate assures me this is a good match for the wood, which will remain as is. D. likes it also, and there is no doubt that it looks great in the upstairs hallway as well but I can’t “see it” yet, in part because the floor tile and window coverings aren’t in yet to show me.


And then there is this:


Is this crazy? Its the very BLUE powder room off of the front entranceway. Its crazy right? Again, this may be another instance of me not quite “getting it” yet.

Before demolition back in June of last year, my dad and D. kindly and carefully  removed the wainscotting on the north hall wall. At the time I didn’t know where we’d use it – in fact I’d kind-of forgotten about it, but lucky for us Frank hadn’t! He’s going to use it to extend across the wall outside of the powder room, and we’ll get stained trim to match for around the door. I can kind-of see that part but what about that crazy blue?

The last (for real this time) of the paint decisions happened yesterday.  Silver marlin got the boot in favour of athabaska in the ensuite bathroom, and sheer bliss was selected at long last for the main bath.  Choosing for the master bedroom was a bit of a gong show since its the only room that didn’t really change that much in the renovation. Since we’re unsure of what is going on in there after all is said and done, we went with this:


I mean this:
wickham gray

Final Colour Picks

It was fun choosing paint colours, but not at all easy.  Kate helped guide our choices by giving us many great suggestions. The final colour pics are…

silver marlin

BM silver marlin

Benjamin Moore’s Silver Marlin is going in the ensuite, at 50% saturation.

silver marlin in action

heron blue

BM heron blue

I couldn’t find a picture of this colour in a bathroom, but it looks pretty dignified in this bedroom. This is one of the two colours I am unsure of, even though its too late to at this point to change my mind. Paint has been ordered. Blue heron was my final answer for the powder room.

heron blue in action

woodlawn blue

BM woodlawn blue

Woodlawn blue, you were too much colour for the kitchen and family room. We happened to have a sample of you kicking about the house and Kate thought you might look good in the guest bedroom instead.

woodlawn blue in action

cloud cover

BM cloud cover

Cloud cover is the top colour in this room.

Here is an inspiration shot of what I hope to create in the office one day using cloud cover. I already have the ikea shelving unit, so I’m practically done!

white office decor


edgecomb gray

BM edgecomb gray

What can I say about edgecomb grey? Its a chameleon of a colour, that’s for sure. I say this because it took on a very different look depending on the time of day and what room we sampled it in. The iteration below looks like a soft, creamy white/gray, but I’ve also seen photos in which it looked beige. I really don’t like beige. I’ll be disappointed if it turns out beige.

edgecomb gray inspiration

cement gray

BM cement gray

Cement grey took me by surprise when Kate suggested it. Our working plan was do do something dark and dramatic in the hall and entryway, but once the crew began to clear stuff out of that area and we saw just how much wall it occupied, we became less and less committed to the idea. Admittedly, it was a total cop-out.

Actually, the difficult thing about choosing a colour for the foyer was the dearth of inspiration shots of fresh, renovated rooms that contain unpainted wood and trim! No joke! It seems that these days everyone is painting their wood. The few stylish pics I found of wood in its natural state used beige or a chalky dark green on the walls, which nether D. nor I liked. As I have mentioned in other posts, we made the decision long ago to leave the wood be because it is in excellent condition and is truly beautiful. But if I am to believe the 99% of the magazine pictures of painted wood that I see, this is a wildly unpopular decision. So the challenge was to find a colour that matched the wood, matched the new tile, flowed well with the heron blue in the powder room and “suited” the house. The picture below does not show how it might contrast with unpainted wood, obviously, but it gives an idea of how it might look upstairs, where the new trim wil be painted white (but will look nothing like this gorgeous two-story atrium).

simply white

BM simply white

Its simply white, and it will be used wherever new trim is going in. Enough said.