August 23, 2013

Rebuilding the front porch

While we're away in sunny Muskoka for a couple of weeks, Steve has been busy rebuilding our front porch. 
I haven't seen it myself yet in real life but he texted this picture yesterday.  
Looking great, I think!

I was really sorry to see the original "X"s in the railings go.

 I desperately wanted to keep them since they gave the house so much character. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be. 
Our building inspector said that the railings had to be 42" high up top, and that the holes in the "X"s were too big (a kid could easily crawl through). In all honesty, a 6ft tall adult could probably crawl through! 
So we decided to go with straight pickets instead. Many other homes in our neighbourhood have pickets like these so they fit right in. 
Now the big question is...  What colours should we paint all this? Any thoughts?  I'm currently thinking dark grey on the posts and lintels and light grey (to match the rear stucco on the pickets, deck and stairs (still to be installed) with natural cedar ceilings. 
But I am never confident when it comes to choosing colours.  
Here's a close-up. 

I presume that blue rope was used as a safety harness for Steve and not for hanging someone! 
Finally, The Bennett House is getting some curb appeal!

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. 

February 28, 2013

DIY pendant lights

Our dining room was looking extremely uninviting with a couple of bare bulbs pig-tailed from the ceiling.  But all the pendant lights I really loved were way too expensive for us at this point in time.

Tom Dixon, Bronze copper lamp shade, Metallic Lighting
The Bronze Copper Shade by Tom Dixon is a big favourite of mine.  I even checked out suppliers in Glasgow for these when we were over last summer hoping they would be cheaper in the UK (where Tom Dixon is from).  
No luck.  Same price.


The Octo pendant light by Secto is also a light I considered until I saw the cost.  Love these lights.  
Maybe one day!  
Actually, I have recently seen these beauties in action over the dining table of a good friend.  They do not disappoint in real life!  
Simple and beautiful!

But I needed to find a cheaper option.  
So I went to West Elm and saw these.

Definitely in my price range.  Love the wood tones.  But I didn't love looking into a bare bulb at the dinner table.  And frankly I couldn't get the Octo pendant out of my mind!

So I decided to pick up a couple of cheap pendants from Ikea, hook them up and replace them later with something nicer.  At least I'd have something there in the meantime, right?!
I found these.
MELODI Pendant lamp IKEA Gives a directed light. Good for lighting dining tables or a bar area.

$9.99 for two!  Can't beat that!

Before I got to install them, I was in The Home Depot and happened to see some birch veneer edging strips.  I loved the colour and thought I might be able to jazz up my pendants by making a sort of lamp shade like the West Elm ones.

I cut a couple of rings out of particle board that were the same size as the top of the Ikea shade and then started stapling veneer strips all around it.

After awhile it started to look like a funky hairdo.  But I kind of liked it!

I originally planned to glue the loose ends on the bottom together to make a sort of sphere, but decided against it when I got them up.   Actually, I was kind of worried I'd mess them up!

I wouldn't say they are my dream pendants, but I do really like them!  They have a soft, organic, Scandinavian feel to them.
And for the cost, and the little time they took to make, I will not feel guilty replacing them down the road. 

February 18, 2013

Puppy love

Gosh, it's been awhile since I've written!  I really have slowed down my pace since we moved in.
 I do still feel like I'm busy, but now I'm not stressed about getting so many big things done.  It's all stuff I just want to do, but that we can live without.  
And I have been MUCH more patient with the kids because of it.  So really, this is a better place for me. 
I have just realized that I haven't even been taking as many pictures as I should which is leaving me with very little to show on the blog.
Sorry about that!  I will have to get on that in the next few days.
I have put up mirrors and door handles and clothes rails and light fixtures.  I've painted and organized and cleaned as well!  I just have no pictures to show, unfortunately.
But I did take pics of our most exciting recent news.
We are getting a puppy!!

I just love this little girl already!
The kids have named her Keltie Blue and she is an 8 week old Brittany Spaniel.
We get to bring her home next Sunday!

We went to visit her at the breeder's last week-end.  
Seven puppies in one room---  little girl heaven!!

Since I have never had a dog of my own (only lived with my room-mate's Irish Setter in university), I have been reading up a storm on how to prepare for this little bundle of joy.  It's a bit like having a kid!  Only, as my friend put it, I can still leave her in a crate for a couple hours-- something that is kind of frowned upon with children.  ;-)
I really wanted to have the basement space available to us for playing with and training Keltie so I called back our drywall guy.  

Once again, my pictures are shamefully behind, but we are now finished all the drywalling, the priming, and the painting on the ceiling.
Tomorrow he finishes painting the walls, then trim and doors.
We should be ready for Keltie's arrival on the 24th!

The floor in the basement has been a bit of a problem for me. 
In the beginning, I planned on calling in a company to polish the concrete floor as our finished floor. 
So I looked into Marmoleum and cork.  
Still expensive.
So Paul suggested I try to polish it myself!  Ack!  I've heard that before!!  Like when I wanted to hire an Architect at the beginning of this reno project!!
Although I suppose that worked out well enough in the end.  So I'm going to give it a try!
I promise I'll take lots of pictures of this time-- even if it's a monumental disaster!

January 25, 2013

Glass panels

Our three glass panels were installed this week!
Now we can finally start using the shower in our master bathroom.

But first I had to seal the grout.
It turned out to be a very simple job with this little brush/bottle thingy I picked up at Rona.

Ready for use!
We had our glass guys install a towel rail right in the glass since I've been having a hard time finding a place for one anywhere else.  
The only other spot was that far wall in the shower.  Not exactly practical.

The other 2 glass panels were an idea I came up with for the entrance way.

This was my problem in the front hall.  
The stairs going to the side door and basement needed to be enclosed in some way-- either railings or walls.  But I wasn't sure which way to go.  I didn't love that anyone standing at the front door could see straight through to our main living space and backyard, but neither did I like the idea of closing it all off with walls.  
Railings seemed a bit too busy for this space anyway.

So I decided to get two frosted glass panels made.
They are simple and modern, let light shine through, and give us some privacy at the front door.
They also show the zig-zag of the stairs behind them which I really like.

 This is the view from the front door.
I really like how these turned out.

And now we have the perfect spot for that giant piece of driftwood that Paul hauled back from the cottage.

I think this rustic piece of nature looks just perfect next to the sleek, frosted panel of glass.
And we do actually use it as a coat rack!
Now we just need a slightly smaller bench to replace that big wicker one.

January 08, 2013

Renovation fatigue

We've been living in our house for a full month now!
I kind of hoped we would be a lot more organized than we are.  
But with Christmas, 

and the kids off school for 2 weeks, and going to the cottage for New Year's,

and a whole host of problems to fix, I haven't done as much unpacking as I wanted to. 
The truth is--- I'm just tired.
Now that we've got a working kitchen and a comfortable couch to sit in, I just don't feel like tackling the stack of boxes that still fill our guest room and basement.
I've got reno burnout.
So we're just going to slowly settle ourselves in and hold off on all the finishing touches for awhile-- like stair railings, the fireplace, door handles, basement drywalling, closet doors...
Not exactly little stuff, I know, but we can live without it.
I have put in a few shelves, and clothes rods (so we have a place to empty our boxes to).

Hooks, too, are a necessity!

We carted this big piece of driftwood home from the cottage last week for our front hall.  
Paul, (I can practically hear his family chuckling right now!) pulled it up from the beach and suggested we use it as a coat rack! 
Love it!

When we were in Scotland last summer, Paul's family friends the McKays of McKay Flooring gave us 3 whisky barrel staves from their line of Scottish whisky barrel flooring.  
The coolest flooring ever!

We packaged them well and carted them home with our luggage.

I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but had a couple of ideas for art projects.
In the end, we decided to just leave them and hang them up exactly as they were.

I think they look great!
They still even smell like whisky!  

So, hopefully soon, I'll be able to do a bit more posting. 
In the meantime, I'm back at the boxes-- keep, garbage, donate.