Monthly Archives: June 2013

In Praise of Beaches Bath City in Toronto – Read On!

Those of you who follow this blog know that D. and I have had a tough go of things with this reno; it was just our particular reality with this particular project, and we’ve tried to deal with things the best we could. The months that really seemed to drag on were the inert ones – this was July 2012 to around January 2013 – when nothing much was going on in the house, and we were just waiting and thinking and dreaming about how to put old Humpty Dumpty back together. Shopping was an inevitable part of this process. It had to be done at some point.

Before the reno, I remember laughing in disbelief at one of Dave’s cousins who told us that there were multiple stores in Toronto where one could find, almost exclusively, faucets. **Record scratch** WHAT? As it happened, though, all sorts of stores like this that we would not otherwise find ourselves in became weekly haunts for us. Faucet hunting? That’d be me! Toilet shopping? Where do I sign up?! Pretty baths? Don’t mind if I do!

Sadly, our initial experiences at a few upscale Toronto bath supply retailers were trodden by a series of sales staff who, for whatever reason, simply would not help us.  By this I mean waiting in a showroom for half an hour or even up to an HOUR while associate after associate either ignored us totally or passed us off onto their colleague, or treated us rudely/without interest despite our spoken entreaties for assistance, and our articulate and well-reserached questions. I am looking at you sideways, Taps, but most of all, I am looking at you Gingers. Oh, Gingers! You sell beautiful things, but that is only a part of what you need to do. Is anyone doing customer service there? Bueller?  Bueller? Anyone?? Surely someone on your staff has seen the movie Pretty Woman? Perhaps you could dissect this scene at your next staff meeting:

As it turned out, we needn’t have gone so far nor have been treated so badly when a beacon of friendly, knowledgeable and expert bath and bath product service was within walking distance from our home. That shining beacon was (is) Beaches Bath City on Kingston Road in Toronto, and were it not for the fact that I vow to never renovate again, I would shop at this store on a weekly basis. How do I begin my praise to Beaches Bath City? For starters, even in the early days of preparation for this renovation, we would often stop into the store, coffees in hand, just to browse the selection of toilets, floor model vanities and faucets on the floor. During these visits we were always greeted with a smile and an offer of help by one of the friendly staff, (and sometimes even a big fluffy dog!) Month after month, as our renovation progressed, we started looking at products more seriously here (and especially after a particularly brutal encounter at Ginger’s). We were inspired by Bath City’s passionate staff and always felt welcome looking at pretty things, even on lazy Sundays when we would sometimes come in looking like bums who had just rolled out of bed because, well, we had.

Eventually we bought some big-ticket items here, like two full shower systems and an oversized bathtub, and later, three bathroom faucets, a pedestal sink, three toilets and a kitchen faucet.  We made all of these purchases with the guidance and support of the amazing staff here, and for this reason I wish to praise Beaches Bath City and their superlative customer service team!  Their amazing associates, (special shout out to Kelly and Julie), were incredible fonts of information: always gracious, energetic and enthusiastic, who would never hesitate to chime in with their objective (and sometimes much appreciated subjective) input regarding the product(s) we were interested in;  not that it would  matter much, as I suspect that BBC only stocks products that they stand behind, and know intimately well. Furthermore, many of their staff (as I have been told) are trained in interior design, architecture, installation and art.

Beaches Bath City provided us with advice and instruction on every product we purchased, made pick-up for our contractors a breeze, and always had a mind towards our design which fluctuated with the changing nature and timeline of our end product. The showroom is immaculate, the vibe is relaxed and I will recommend, without hesitation, this shop to anyone who is purchasing bath products in Toronto. Prices are competitive and they care about their customers and stand behind their products. Go to there, go to there before you head to the design district and you will not be disappointed! They also have at least one larger showroom in Vaughan,  in case you are the type that needs to see multiple products in person.

One of the many things that this renovation has reinforced in me is the value of the human component that is inherent (or at least should be) in any of our consumer transactions. Beaches Bath City is one store that “gets” it. Thank you, Beaches Bath City! We like you a lot!

A. & D.


T- Minus 3 Days

So we are moving in on Wednesday! Not everything will be done – sconces still need to be installed, as will pendants in the kitchen, several “soft” finishes like mirrors need to be affixed, and furniture for the family room has yet to be ordered.  But we just had to get back in, its been way too long. I figure as long as we can cook a meal and take a shower, we’re good to shuffle back.

How is it all going to come together, though?! D. and I are experiencing a mix of excitement and anxiety about this. The time is now 9:47 on Sunday night and there are a LOT of finishing touches still on the go, not the least of which is carpet for upstairs. No floors here


or here…


And here, no paint or fixtures:


I’m hoping for a secret team of elves right now.

A little more progress

The floors are all stained now. Just a couple of coats of polyurethane, a couple of days’ drying time and we have ourselves a kitchen floor! We won’t be able to walk on it until Saturday – or possibly Sunday – so we opened the side door to take these pictures:


The colour of the floors as shown above emphasizes their lightness (I wish they were just a touch darker), but its not necessarilty their “true” colour in the sense that by employing different lighting schemes we’ll actually have a good deal of control over how dark or light the floors appear. To be sure, we have yet to install: pendants, under-cabinet lighting, over-cabinet lighting, a pot light above the east counter, range lighting and two scones to the east wall. So in the end, I think we may have done Andy proud.  Part of the (lighting) song indeed will heard be in the beats (shadows) that are not played (illuminated) at any given moment.  

Below is more of a “in the shadows” picture.


Another Milestone! 
Yesterday I surpassed 2000 views to this blog! Thanks Mom!!
But also, today we selected the last of the hardware for the whole house! We went to Beaches Bath City – an amazing store that I really want to devote a whole post to at some point – and selected our kitchen faucet. D. liked this one the best, I liked it also but had others in mind. D. has been so accommodating on so many other design items so we compromised on this, his #1 choice, the Riobel “Edge.” I guess its only fair – I do most of the cooking, but he does most of the dishes. 😉


The day before the floors

These are the last pics of the house I’ll be posting until the weekend because the hardwood guys are coming in to stain and finish the floors tomorrow morning, so it will be no hands (but theirs) on deck until that is complete. I think by Sunday we’ll be able to go and see them. And walk on them, too.

In the meantime… the vanities are in place, just waiting for their sinks and counters.


main bath vanity


ensuite vanity

Both vanity counters will be white, but I am having a tough time deciding on counter material for the main stretch of kitchen here:


The original plan was to use white on both the anthracite island and the wall of cabinetry, but both D. and Kate want me to consider using Caesarstone’s “Raven.”  on the white cabinets. I guess its nice. The issue that I am having with it is that its actually quite a bit lighter than the anthracite island (i.e. does not match) and it also seems to have blue undertones.  My final answer was supposed to be delivered tonight, but I think I will sleep on it. I have a good track record for making design decisions after a good night’s sleep.



Another Step Forward.

The good news is that I can finally see the ensuite bathroom come together. I was skeptical at first about the juxtaposition of all the patterned tiles, but its making more sense to me now.


Other good news is this – the trim work throughout the house – authentic reproductions of all the old-style trim looks so charming and dignified! The carpentry is truly beautiful. I am going to notice things like this everywhere I go now.


My vocabulary has grown a lot this past year: plinths, toe-kicks, routering, furring, edging, gables; it keeps me sane to think of all of the positives this renovation has brought, not the least of which is D. and my capability as a couple to persevere during extremely stressful times, like when for weeks at a time our basement looked like this and there seemed to be no end in sight.


This past week has been the busiest, most chore-laden, intensive back-and-forth across the city, important last-minute changes, mental energy-draining weeks since the whole thing started, if you can believe it. But its over now. Next week might be the same, but there is a good chance it will be better. Whatever happens, I know we can handle it together.

Stepping into the kitchen makes it all a little easier. This,  this  is the anthracite island (without its top on). How do you say…finally!


Kitchen Install, Day 2

The installer did good work! The cabinets are in and the island has been placed!


We won’t have countertops or a backsplash or appliances for another couple of weeks. First they’ll do the floors and then attach the toe-kicks and plinths and hardware. Oh, and finally we have Edgecomb Gray looking, well, gray. I am very happy about this!


I wish I had snapped a shot of the island before it got covered up for the night, because its not white but a colour called “anthracite.” Next time!

Kitchen Install, Day 1

Today is Day One of the kitchen install. It was also the single busiest day of the entire renovation that I’d witnessed. I counted five guys on site, including the kitchen installer. IMG_1288

This isn’t Extreme Home Makeover, this is real life. There is never a crew of twenty.

I’ll pause here to say that as far as I can tell, there is excellent progress on the kitchen and other things in the house like walls and painting.

But there were also problems. Oh, were there problems! Trim, upper cabinet lighting and a misplaced electrical outlet were all areas of concern that the kitchen installer raised when D. and I arrived on the scene. I was bewildered and angry. Thankfully (for us, not necessarily him)  Andy, one of our lead hands, was just arriving back to the house from a coffee break when the last of the problems was explained to us.  Bewildered and frustrated as I was, I spat out a string of invective (directed at nobody in particular) that I’m not even sure the Academy of Motion Pictures has a rating for. It was ugly.

In some way through all the pirate talk, I think I was pleading for someone else to fix the problems. The thing is, I don’t speak the language of construction and when I am asked/told about issues without the help of our contractor as the filter/translator, it is completely disorienting.  So yeah, I exploded. And thankfully Andy came through. He knew what they were asking, and he took care of the issues. Before he arrived, I thought we’d be moving back next June.


are you freaking kidding me, again?

I am hoping that Day Two is a little easier on us. We’re placing the island tomorrow afternoon at around 2pm,  which is a permanent structure in  the house once its been affixed. Here’s hoping for a little grace – and for a smooth remainder of the installation.