Main Floor Reno: Part 3

Kitchen After-7
We are so excited to share with you the final photos from our kitchen renovation!

What is it about the final 10% of a job seeming to take 50% of the time? Fortunately we had the bulk of the work done before our most important deadline, the arrival of our Baby Girl,  and then after taking a few months off to welcome her to the world and get adjusted as new parents, we finally made the time to tile the back-splash and the kitchen is now complete.

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Overall we would say this was a really enjoyable renovation and there were a few things that definitely helped make it that way:

Prep properly.
If you are anything like us, seeing the first hole in the wall is pretty darn exciting, which means that sometimes it is more fun to get going on the job before things are properly prepped. This time around we carefully packed everything away and covered the floors, hallways, etc. before getting started and it made a huge difference. Not only were we not dancing around our things when trying to complete the job, but when everything was done we simply had to open up the boxes and put our clean items away in their new home.

Kitchen After-6Kitchen After-9
Clean as you go.
I know some people might thing that dusting amongst dust or cleaning for something only to get dirty again the next day seems like a whole lot of wasted energy, but for us it was the difference between renovation sanity or throwing in the towel. It also made the final clean much easier and prevented other parts of the house from getting wrecked during the process.

Get Organized.
Early on in the process Lauren’s Dad put together a flow chart of sorts that laid out everything that needed to be done and how they all worked together (electrical before drywall, etc.) With a team made up of family members and a few hired trades, this definitely made a big difference keeping us all on track throughout the process.

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Kitchen After-12
Live in the Space.
By living in the space, we mean setting things up so that you can actually live in the space. For us this meant making a temporary kitchen in the laundry room when we had no plumbing in the kitchen and keeping the stove and fridge accessible throughout. It is a bit of extra work and takes some juggling, but being able to eat at home or make a cup of coffee helped us to enjoy the process and not rely solely on takeout.

Get Help.
While we were at work our hardworking parents were very often at the house managing the mess, keeping the trades on track and tackling jobs on their own, which played a huge role in making this renovation so enjoyable and smooth. We appreciate that not everyone has access to help like this, but if you can find it, take it. A painting party, cleaning party or even a quick hand moving something can relieve just enough of the pressure and work to help you keep your energy up to finish the job.

Kitchen After-11

Kitchen After-15

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Do you have any tips for surviving a Home Reno? We would love to hear them!

We can’t wait to share with you a few other things we have been working on, including the front of the house renovation that started as a simple add-on project and ended up transforming the space!

Main Floor Reno: Part 2

Kitchen 2-1With the kitchen prepped  and our bodies fueled with the daily renovation diet of coffee and croissants, it was time to start putting together the IKEA kitchen cabinets.

The entire design of the kitchen was done by Shawn using IKEA’s online Kitchen Planning Tool. His vision arrived in the form of hundreds of IKEA boxes that were piled high in the mid-renovation dining room (future post on those renovations to follow!) ready to be organized, opened and assembled!

Kitchen 2-2After measuring and re-measuring to make sure Shawn’s plans were going to work (which they did!) an assembly line of opening, building and then installing made this significant task a manageable one.

Two days of cursing and then praising everything IKEA, being adamant on multiple occasions they had missed a piece only to find it every. single. time. and ultimately deeming ourselves IKEA kitchen Masters, the cupboards were fully installed and the space showing signs of its new look.

Kitchen 2-3

Kitchen 2-4Fairly early on in the design stage we knew that we wanted to relocate the sink to the corner of the main countertop, which meant a miter cut in the countertop that had us worried. Wanting to avoid a miss cut (or 10) and needing to ensure everything was professionally installed and sealed to avoid potential water damage, we decided to splurge on custom walnut countertops made up by local countertop craftsmen Knotty’s Woodwork. With a wait time of 4-6 weeks, a simple plywood countertop allowed us a functional kitchen while we waited.

Kitchen 2-5The next step of the process was to paint, which we strangely decided to do post cabinet installation (something we wouldn’t do next time around.)  We used Behr ‘Atmosphere’ on the walls in both the Kitchen and the Living Room after watching Lauren’s parents paint their entire house in that colour and falling equally in love with it. A warm grey/white that looks good in all lights and rooms, the colour was an easy choice and one that did not disappoint.

Kitchen 2-6Around the time painting was finished we were able to alleviate some of the tool storage and construction zone vibe that our main floor had taken on and condense everything into the almost completed Dining Room. After washing and re-washing away weeks of construction dust  the living room was reassembled and the record player back up and running – a true sign that the end of this reno was near!

Adding the kitchen cupboard doors, drawer fronts, and gables allowed us to really be able to see the finish line and start installing some finishing touches like the Restoration Hardware bar lights, which offered the simple and rustic design we wanted for this new seating area.

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Kitchen 2-8 Kitchen 2-9

Kitchen 2-10The final items to cross off of our to-do list were installing handles, tiling the backsplash and replacing the barn board wainscoting in some areas, which we can’t wait to share with you in Part Three of this little reno series – coming soon!

Main Floor Reno: Part 1


The character of our 100+ year old home is something we truly love from the oversized baseboards to the squeaky original hardwood floors. That said, the design of the main floor with three very separate and closed off living spaces (kitchen, dining room and living room) is something that has always left us wanting more. The dream of being able to have someone in the kitchen preparing a meal and enjoying  a clear sightline of the living room where our soon to be arriving baby would be hanging out (listening to records, obviously) set us out on the journey of one of our biggest home renovations yet.

Not wanting to change too many of the original features such as the heavy old pocket door and beautiful beam work in the living room meant going for a modified open concept space with a brand new kitchen to replace the one that had been well loved and was on its last legs. Originally our plan was the take down just one wall (between the living room and kitchen,) but after being encouraged to see the vision of a slightly opened up dining room, we added that to the list of things to demo and re-do.


Kitchen before-2


Kitchen before-1As the kitchen was a total gut job, we needed to remove everything, starting with the cabinets and backsplash and were fortunate enough to have the help of family to wield the sledge hammers.  Along the way we punched holes in the west wall that previously housed the majority of hanging cabinets and the wall that was to be removed (north wall shared with the living room) to see what was behind the plaster, and where the pipes and duct were. Old homes tend to be full of surprises and this one was no different!

Kitchen-2With some of the plaster gone from the west wall we better understood why our kitchen was a bit chilly in the winter as the framing and insulation were in serious need of updating. This little discovery encouraged the decision to redo the framing and put in proper insulation to help keep the kitchen warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Another little surprise was the discovery of a duct running right up the middle of the north wall as well as some electrical work, both of which would need re-routing.  Both were easily adjusted, but not of course without the welcoming of some additional trades and money!

Kitchen-4 Kitchen-5Kitchen-3A good home reno always brings with it the fun excuse to indulge in all of the different take out options there are to enjoy, but even pizza can grow old (even for a 7month pregnant lady!) after a while so we were very fortunate to be able to have use of our fridge and stove during most of this renovation. Simple meals and coffee in the morning can somehow calm the chaos that a full reno can download on ones daily routine.

Kitchen-7Once new drywall was put up on the west wall, work could be started on the ceiling, which brought with it perhaps Lauren’s happiest change of the whole reno, a farewell to the popcorn plaster ceiling.

Kitchen-8The plan after removing the north wall was to replace it with a half wall that would act as a counter for eating with lower cupboards, etc. on the kitchen side. A simple job of putting up a frame and some drywall gave us some definition to the spaces and perfect spot to eat and entertain.


With all the drywall replaced it was time for a cleanup of all of the surfaces and prep to install the new cabinetry. Stay tuned for Part Two!