Category Archives: Uncategorized

Back to the Basement

But thankfully we’re far removed from this:


February 2013

This is what the basement looks like now. I need to decide on a paint colour, stat.


Top-to-bottom: Benjamin Moore’s Abalone, Balboa Mist and Coventry Gray.

My inclination is to go with Coventry Grey, but maybe at 50% saturation. We do have windows coming into the basement but they haven’t been popped in yet, so I can’r risk a chameleon colour, I need a sure thing, and something that won’t surprise me later with undertones I hadn’t anticipated. Both Coventry and Stonington greys are supposed to be the most “pure” greys (or so my online research tells me).

Thing is, I think I have renovation fatigue, and its hindering my ability to create a cohesive space, at least with regard to colour schemes, down there. So what if I did go with Coventry -its a warm but contemporary colour -could I also do a more traditional guest bedroom? I am loving the options for matching colours with Benjamin Moore’s Hawthorne Yellow:


I did choose Ben Moore’s Chantilly Lace for the bathroom and laundry room. I can’t stop admiring this colour. I hope it works in my space as much as it does in these:




Its been a while…

I feel like a bad blogger for not having posted for so long, so I’ll sweeten this post for my three loyal followers by showing a sneak preview of the kitchen, which is about 90% done at this point. But first: why I haven’t been blogging, which can be summed up in two words: moving tough.


This was the state of the living and dining room a couple of days after we moved in. All of our belongings were stuffed into these rooms when we began the renovation, so not only were we tasked with completing an *actual* move from one place to the next, we had to contend with this also, and its still very much a work in progress. Currently we are living upstairs and in the kitchen/family room, which is fine. And speaking of works in progress…

I didn’t know last month that “move-in ready” was contractor code for “we’ll be around for the next 3-4 months finishing up but you’ll be able to cook meals and shower.” Its not ideal, and I suppose I’m glad that they are not rushing when it comes to the finishing details, but its not a constant stream of work like it was before, unfortunately. Its more like a day here, a couple days there. You know? The basement work is scheduled to begin August 15th, before which I will post a whole new slew of “before” photos to show y’all. So yeah, my renovation blog continues. I’m hesitant to show more progress pictures of the rest of the place before things are completely done because they almost are at this point in many of the rooms, and I’d like to have a big dramatic reveal once this actually happens.

But here are a couple of teasers:


Kitchen looking south.


Kitchen looking east. New window where once there was none!                                       Also, Dexter in the background!



The glass rail.

I am still working on soft finishes and some furniture with Kate, so I’ll have an update on that stuff next time. Fabrics! So many fabrics!

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!