House Tour-Before & After

Friday, April 11, 2014

Here it is, the big before and after! I'm thrilled to be able to share these with you so this is a long post-you better settle in and get ready to scroll. I've tried to match up the original real estate listing photos with current ones. Although they aren't from exactly the same angle, I think they give you the general idea. When compiling these I was actually shocked to see where we had started from and where we are today. If you're interested in how we got here take a look at our progress here, here and here. I tend to focus on all the things we still have left to do, like the bathroom and the basement but it's nice to step back and see the changes-plus I love a good before and after and I'm pretty proud of all our hard work.

Entryway/Downstairs Hallway

The first thing we did in the hallway was close off the door to the kitchen. It allowed us to create a usable kitchen space and we didn't really needed three entrances into the kitchen. We also ripped out all of the carpet and the dated linoleum, added slate grey ceramic tile and refinished and painted the stairs. 

Let me tell you about those stairs. If you read the 'Great Staircase Debate' post here - you'll know I was undecided as to which style of stair railing would work best and not cost a fortune. A few people asked me what was so wrong with the original banister. While I do like the look of iron work it tends to read more 'Spanish Colonial or Spanish Revival' to me which didn't fit with our 1950s cottage. The banister itself also had a horrible plastic handrail that could not be removed so goodbye old railing. Ripping out the carpet and the millions of staples that went along with it was a job I'll be forever grateful to my dear old dad for. The process of sanding, refinishing and painting the stairs was also incredibly time consuming. Finally, we got a quote to make the stair railing that came in at over $2300. I convinced Chad that he could do it himself. After reading a few books he managed to do a amazing job for under $600. He's a keeper that one.

My dream wallpaper was way out of budget but this wallpaper we ended up using from Rona does the job for way less than half the price. I think it gives the entryway some interest and ties in the turquoise used in the rest of the house. Repainting everything else a fresh white also made a huge difference. 

Upstairs Hallway

The upstairs hallway was drastically improved by just removing the carpet and more white paint. Again, Chad's new stair rail also made a huge difference. The little table at the end of the hall was something the former owner left for us and I may eventually end up repainting.

Living Room

I'm really pleased with how the living room ended up. It didn't go exactly to my original plan and I sure had a few moments of total freak out concern. One thing I never doubted was my love for that light fixture. It wasn't cheap and I bought it very early on in the process on a trip to Toronto back when I naively thought the reno would be on budget. It was also nearly impossible to hang. Picture Chad and I both standing on ladders 12 feet in the air with our arms above our heads-me yelling not to break my baby. In the end I think it is my favourite element in the room and totally worth the splurge. 

I had originally wanted Chad to build a pipe and reclaimed wood shelving unit to cover the entire back wall in order to house the infamous BINGO sign. Again, it came down to budget. After I removed the TWO layers of wallpaper-one faux brick, followed by one faux wood, budgetary restrictions left me with one option-paint. The black wall actually makes the space feel bigger than when it was white and makes a nice backdrop for art.

Apart from removing all the carpet and refinished the floors (something I don't suggest anyone do themselves) the only other changes-apart from gallons of white paint-were to remove the room dividers and decorative bulkhead that was being used as a planter box and display shelf. In terms of furniture and artwork, most of it is vintage- either from my family, estate sales or flea markets. The rug and drapes are from Ikea. The couch was found on ebay here. The large abstract art was something Chad and I made using leftover house paint.

Dining Room

Removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room really made the most difference in the overall flow of the house. The old dining room had this ridiculously small pass-through, an acoustic tile ceiling and dark wood panelling. While I think wood panelling has it's place and can look beautiful it was next to impossible not to damage when we removed the wall and added the patio door. The patio door was one thing we didn't do ourselves and hired a contractor to do. It creates an enormous amount of light and really adds to the overall bright and airy feel I was hoping for. The dining room table is vintage, the chairs were a gift from my parents, the rug, curtains and display case/bar are all from Ikea. The sputnik light is from Morba in Toronto. 


The kitchen was really a hot mess-seriously. I mean I've seen some cute retro kitchens but this one was so small that not more than one person could stand in it (the original picture is deceptive). It was also what can only be described as a fleshy peach tone. There was an pipe behind the fridge that caused it to sit in almost the middle of the room. There was nothing worth keeping and it was a complete gut job. We filled in the side entrance door and the door to the hallway all while opening up the wall to the dining room. All the cabinets and appliances are Ikea and the countertop is quartz. There are still a few finishing details to complete (isn't that always the way) like adding grey tape to conceal the white base cabinet joints, building a wine rack (please Chad) and discussing whether we want to add trim to take the upper cabinets to the ceiling (not an exciting job in a older house that is not at all level). Overall, I am very happy with the layout of the kitchen and the durability of the cabinets and counters (which so far seem indestructible). 

If you've made it all the way to the end of this, thanks. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of our little work-in-progress. Time to take a break and enjoy my living room with a glass of wine.

My House Tour on Sfgirlbybay!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hi everyone! This post is going to have a lot of exclamations marks 'cause I am so excited! I was putting off posting pictures of our "completed" house because of a little secret. Our house was featured on sfgirlbybay this morning! Having my pictures shown on a site that I've admired for so long is exclamation worthy, I think! So please go take a look at the tour and I'll be back this week with more before and afters and room by room breakdowns.

The Updated Bathroom

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I can't exactly call this a big reveal or a big renovation because we haven't quite tackled it yet. The bathroom is in perfect working order-for the 1950's. Now, I love a good retro bathroom and really it isn't that bad but I know it could be so much better. Here is the photo from the real estate listing:

Firstly, it was very, very clean and well taken care of- so that won points with me. I love some of the retro details like the black border tile and the built in cup and toothbrush holder. Secondly, it has potential due to what I call the "hobbit-hole". There is a door just out of frame that opens into a huge storage area under the rafters. I'll do a whole post about what the possible renovation plans could be (one with a realistic budget and one with a dream budget-hello glass shower room and Turkish tile floor).

 I painted away the yellow right after I finished painting away the pink in the bedroom. It's amazing what a coat or two of white paint can do.

Other than painting, I removed the curtain inside the shower (obviously), added a simple black and white shower curtain and a few accessories. The crazy bird-hat lady photo is someone's old modeling portfolio shot that I found at the flea market and the vase, soap dispenser and shower curtain are all from Target. Chad also had to add in an outlet because there wasn't a single one in the bathroom.

The only thing I'm struggling to live with is the floor. We have to save up enough money and create another bathroom in the basement before we even start on this one. I had hoped there might be some cute black and white tile under the peel-and-stick tiles but sadly, there is only more linoleum. Even though we won't be tackling this reno in the near future, it hasn't stopped me from planning and 'pinning' away. Is your bathroom your dream bathroom and if not  how do you make the one you have work for right now?

Le Weekend

Saturday, March 22, 2014


As promised, I'm going to keep the posts coming. There is nothing I love more than enjoying a cup of coffee (or let's be honest, several cups of coffee) and reading the "interwebs" (as Chad calls it) on the weekend.  Here are a few links I loved this week:

  1. Manhattan Nest started on his bathroom renovation, and what a back story it has. This makes me really eager to begin updating ours-minus finding all the surprises. 
  2. How to plant a succulent garden without making a huge mess, Orlando, shows us how. 
  3. This D.I.Y. lamp is beautiful
  4. I'm trying to learn how to use Photoshop and found this tutorial really helpful. 
  5. Can't wait to go see The Grand Budapest Hotel this afternoon. This review sealed the deal. 
  6. What a pretty moodboard from 7th House on the Left -summer surfing sign me up. 
  7. Lord knows I love me some wallpaper. If I was rich these would all be contenders.
  8. Such an amazing kitchen renovation-maybe for our next house!
  9. Finally, you have to go see Colleen's blog ARCTICdeco. Not only does it makes me miss Nunavut but you should see all the creative projects she gets up to. Her review of the Nest may just be enough to persuade Chad! 

The Convalescents and a Bedroom Reveal

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I can't believe I'm putting a picture of me in pajamas nearly dying up here but I just did. That's my gift to you in order to explain my absence (well part of it). Thanks Chad for the lovely picture and top notch Photoshop skills. The other part of my absence was due to the fact that I lost the camera charger and was traveling here:

Hello Munich
Aren't you warm and snow free
(Just thought I'd keep it going with the awkward photos)

Oh Hello Montreal in March
Thankfully my sickness subsided in time for 'lucky old me' to travel to Munich for work. It felt like summer there at a balmy +10 (yes, everyone thought I was crazy) and then I came back to Montreal and it's been snowing non-stop. That was depressing. But enough of my excuses, I finally got a new charger and a new camera lens (don't get too excited I didn't use it for the photos I'm about to show you-one step at a time over here).

If you remember way back to my first house photos, here was the bedroom before in all it's salmon pink glory.

The first thing I did on the day we moved in was start painting.

 I knew this was probably going to be the only room in the whole house that wouldn't be a complete wreck while renovating and I wanted to try and make it at least somewhat pretty. It was my 'safe room' during renovations but it didn't emerge completely unscathed. It still somehow managed to get covered in a thick layer of construction dust no matter what I tried but at least it felt like a bit of a sanctuary. You got a peek of the room in my convalescent photo but here are a few more minus me in my pajamas.

Everything in the room was recycled from our last apartment. The sconces and dresser used to be in our old dining room and our king-sized bed and headboard managed to be squeezed in here. I went with a dark blue,almost a navy, on the walls. In such a small room I think it's better to embrace the coziness. Painting the first wall was a bit scary but I'm very happy with how it turned out. It's almost like a sleeping cabin or cocoon. In order to balance out all the blue I went with all-white bedding and curtains. I think the touches of yellow also keep it from being too flat. So that's our new and improved bedroom! I promise I'll be back with the rest of the house tour and that it won't include pajamas or awkward tourist photos.

Almost Done and Nearly Dead

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


This is point where I show you happy 'nearly done' renovation photos and talk about how we're in the 'home stretch' and 'what a great experience this has been'. Hmmmm....well yes we are nearly done but somehow this last part has been the hardest.

I've given up on trying to contain dust and now everything I own has a thick layer on it (sorry cats, you feel like you went a bit crazy with the dry shampoo). I'm actually sick of Ikea and Home Depot (I know some of you find this very hard to believe) and I don't want to eat another meal in a restaurant or in my basement. We're at that precarious point where 'good enough' seems like a good idea. No one needs vent covers? Right? And who's going to look that closely at the 2 inch gap over there? Right?

I'm going to put it out there. I want this done before Christmas and hopefully it will happen. On our to-do list: finish trim work, finish patching and sanding and then paint EVERYTHING. (Also find my camera charger-apologies for the crappy camera phone photos).

It's easy to lose sight of how much we've accomplished but looking back at photos really shows how much progress we've made. I mean, we finished the kitchen...


...and then promptly filled up with furniture in order to refinish the floors (therefore rendering it useless once again).

Let's just take a look at how it went from this:

To this (don't worry we didn't choose blue cabinets- I just refuse to take off the protective film until the chaos is complete): 

Chad really did an amazing job. Even the countertop installer couldn't believe it wasn't professionally done. In the process I think we even convinced my parents to redo their kitchen using Ikea cabinets.

Now let's take a look at the rest of the of the living room/dining room. Chad and I have a piece of advice for anyone who thinks they want to save money and refinish your own floors: DON'T DO IT. (Wow I sure am using a lot of caps today) Seriously, it's right up there with doing your own drywalling. Please find it in your budget to hire someone to do it. Don't be like us me who decided it was a really good idea to blow the budget on fancy light fixtures (I still love you chandelier. Let's not tell Chad but I'd buy you all over again). Drywalling and floor refinishing were the two times when Chad and I nearly killed each other. Tools, choice words and threats of 'just leaving the whole project and living in the basement forever' where thrown about. 

Poor Chad
I blame those home renovation shows where someone passes a sanding machine over the floor once and the stain magically disappears. Three full days of sanding later and our old wavy floors were not even close to being down to the natural wood. 

In the end, even though it's 'against the rules' we got tired and went over spots with hand held sanders, figuring the floor was so wavy it wasn't going to make much difference-and in the end it didn't. After almost 6 days we had sanded, re-stained and varnished the living/dining room, office and the stairs. Let's not talk about doing the upstairs to Chad just yet. We also had to change our plans and use a water-based stain and varnish because we wouldn't be able to leave the house while an oil based product dried. It meant that I couldn't use as dark a stain as I had wanted but I think it turned out pretty well in the end. We enjoyed it for a half a day and then got right back to work covering in it dust in order to start adding the trim.

So that's it- thanks for those of you who made it all the way to the end of my rant. I'll leave you with a picture of my current project-the stairs. I think they look a hundred times better than the pink and carpet they originally were.

Do you have any renovation burn-out stories to share? I'm sure after this is all done and I'm sitting in my living room enjoying it I'll be already planning our next project. What do you think Chad-basement or bathroom next?

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