July 24, 2013

Some of my favourite things

I've been wanting to get back to the blog for awhile now, but since I've been away for so long, I just didn't know where to begin.
We did slow down the pace once we moved in, but are still working on so many things that I really could write a lot!  
But I've got to somehow catch up a bit first.  
Today I was going over my friend's plans for her big renovation.  
Very exciting!  I get so fired up about this stuff!
She was asking me some of my favourite parts of our reno. I thought that was a great way to get new ideas! 
Now that we're actually living in the house, I thought I'd share some of the parts that have worked out beautifully with you as well.

The floors:

I love the 5" wide, quarter sawn, site finished, flooring we put in.  I especially love the Rubio oiled finished we did on them.  After 6 months of living on them with 3 kids and a puppy, they still look fabulous.  We have a couple of small stains near the oven and the sheen is a little duller in front of the kitchen sink, but I still prefer this finish to traditional polyurethane.  It feels so natural underfoot.

Transition strips (or lack there of):

I should have taken more pictures of this.  In fact, I could do a whole post!  But one thing I was really fussy about was that the finished floors in all rooms line up with each other.  This was no easy feat in some rooms.  This front hallway for instance, has about an inch and a half of mortar under the tiles leading to the living room and is practically flat on the subfloor near the exterior wall.  
It is a detail that isn't really noticed unless there is a big wood transition strip in between flooring.

The skylights:

Skylights are fantastic for bringing in natural light.  
I love them.  
In fact, if I were to do the reno over again, I would add more.  

The remote controlled skylight was kind of expensive, but since we had the roof completely torn apart, the fixed ones were more than reasonable.  
Absolutely worth it!

The big back window:

The ravine view was the biggest selling feature of this property and this giant window lets us enjoy it to the fullest.  I just haven't figured out a way to easily clean the outside yet.

The bi-fold doors:

These doors were a pain.  They were expensive, difficult to install, and caused us all kinds of problems.  In fact, we have to get them adjusted again, because the main operating door catches when we try to close it.  But even so, I just love them.  When the weather is nice, or when we're entertaining, there is nothing nicer than opening that wall right up.  

The exposed beam:

This beam was a beast to put in.  I remember the ordeal so clearly that it kind of makes me laugh every time I look at it.  It was the biggest structural element of the entire renovation.  How could I drywall it in?  Anyway, I really like the industrial edge it gives the space.

The clerestory windows:

I'm not sure if these are technically clerestory windows or just high regular windows, but that's what I call them anyway.  I'm pretty sure that a proper clerestory window is actually above the roofline like you would see in old cathedrals.  But whatever they're called, I really like them.  They bring in natural light, give you a view to the trees and sky, leave plenty of wall space for hanging art and give you privacy.  
We've got 3 of these and I love them all.

The kids' bathroom layout:

We decided to separate the toilet and shower area of the kids' bathroom from the sinks with a locking pocket door.  With 3 kids sharing this bathroom, we thought there would be less hogging with this set up-- a problem I well remember growing up!  It has worked out really well.  In fact, the main bathroom door is rarely ever closed!

The laundry chute:

So glad we put this in!! 
Second floor laundry was my real dream, but it meant giving up too much bedroom space.  So instead we put in a laundry chute going straight from the kids' bathroom to the laundry room in the basement.

It's fabulous!  No dirty clothes strewn all over the bathroom floor.

My DIY plywood floors:

These have held up extremely well.  I wouldn't do this flooring all over the house, but love it for the 3rd floor kids' rooms.  So fun, and so cheap.

The walnut slab counter:

Probably my favourite of the favourites!  Isn't this gorgeous?  
And as an added bonus, it is practically indestructible.  An inch and a half of solid walnut.  
One piece.

Not even book ended.  

The water heated, concrete, basement floors:

Sometimes the best thing is something you don't even see.  
We added radiant floor heating in the basement concrete slab and it is glorious in the winter.  

Even the dog likes to hang out on that floor!
And the buffed concrete is such a durable, cheap finish down there.  
Especially if you DIY it.  

The zig-zag stairs:

We had some problems with the stairs in the beginning and even had to get two sets rebuilt.  But I do love the look of them.  The simple zig-zag finished in the same oak as the floors is just the look I was after.

The frosted glass panels:

These glass panels ended up being the perfect solution to our side stair dilemma. 
I didn't want to build a wall which would close off all natural light, and hide the zig-zag of the stairs going up, but I didn't want a railing or half wall that would allow anyone at the front door to see straight into our living space.
These turned out better than I imagined.

I might come up with a few more favourite things that I'll write about later. 
But there are definitely a few things that I would do differently if I were to do this all over again as well. 
Overall, we are extremely happy with the reno and are enjoying this house immensely!  It really works for our family. 


  1. Thanks for this post. I think it's really helpful to someone planning a reno to be able to read evaluations of projects from those of us who recently completed construction. I did a post recently with pros and cons of every room. Knowing how things went for us...like the problems with your bi-fold doors...gives others really useful information.

    1. Thanks Dana! I saw your house featured in Houzz recently. Gorgeous!

  2. That walnut slap is looks sensational!!!

    Has it been ok on the allergy front?


    1. Hi B! All OK and it really is the focal point of that room. Love it, too.

  3. such a beautiful home....love that big back window....

  4. When it comes to providing your home a sufficient amount of natural light, a skylight is certainly one of the best features to have in your home. And that's not all, it also helps you to reduce energy consumption since you'll be using less artificial light. Likewise, it enhances the visual appeal of your house.

    Lino Kosters @ Arrys Roofing

  5. Your home is entirely fascinating. It’s certainly a great place to relax because it’s spacious, open, and airy. You have skylights, bi-fold doors, and huge glass windows that give the entire home a cozy atmosphere!

    Teresa Chalsma @ The Roofing and Remodeling Company