DIY

Main Floor Reno: Part 1

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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:

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LIVING ROOM BEFORE:

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.

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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!

 

Cottage Chutney

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With bags packed full of inspiration after our trip to the local market, Shawn set to work over the past few days to carry on a tradition we started at the beginning of our relationship.
Pickling seasonal vegetables to share with friends and family has grown thanks to Shawn’s love of cooking into making chutneys, jams and a variety of sauces for us to enjoy.
This weeks creation was an incredible Apple & Pear Bourbon Chutney that we have been smothering on cheese and crackers, sandwiches and eating straight from a spoon!

Shawn’s Apple & Pear Bourbon Chutney
2 Apples, peeled and roughly chopped into small chunks
2 Pears, peeled and roughly chopped into small chunks
4 Basil Leaves, chopped
4 Tarragon Leaves, chopped
2 cups of White Sugar
2 cups of White Wine Vinegar
1 cup of Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup of Water
4 tbsp of Bourbon
4 tbsp of Butter
1 1/2 tsp of All Spice
a bit of Lemon Zest
a bit of Salt
Bring everything to a boil
Reduce to medium heat and heavy simmer for about 45 minutes
For a smoother chutney, mash it up a bit after about 30 minutes while it’s reducing
Yield: approx. 3 1/2 cups
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Cottage Mobile

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Our spring baby arrived just in time for the flowers to start budding and summer to be around the corner, a summer that has gifted us days enjoyed between city and cottage.
Living in two places with a baby has meant getting smart about what makes sense to have duplicates of and what is worth trecking back and forth. One thing that needed a permanent home in our cottage life was a change table area, which Papa Jim made fast work of by removing an unused closet in our bedroom and creating the sweetest storage and changing nook.
To finish off the space I wanted to make a mobile for Eloise that brought a little bit of the nature around us inside and was an affordable and quick little project. Not ones for primary colours and plastic (for the most part it’s all white and wood around these parts), I found a selection of butterflies, wooden dowels and white and green paper flowers at the local dollar store to put together a simple mobile for her to enjoy.
As is the case with most DIY projects, this is nothing too difficult  – a few dowels hanging from the ceiling with butterflies attached. That said, here are a few tips that made the project a little easier:
– Build it while it is hanging! Maybe you are some kind of balancing genius who always wins at Jenga, but I am not, so hanging the main structure of the mobile (dowels at the top) and then hanging the butterflies saved me a lot of frustration and allowed for things to be balanced as I went.
– Secure them in place! Once you have all the butterflies attached tape or glue them down so they are secure and don’t go flying. This helped a lot when adding the final flower details at the top.
The sweetheart that she is, Eloise welcome her new mobile with big gummy smiles – the ultimate baby validation.
 xo L.
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