Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Master Bathroom shopping trip #2

Next we went on a shopping spree at Restoration Hardware. While there is no such store in Quebec, I trusted my instinct to buy online, and we thankfully loved everything when it arrived.

The Hutton single sink cabinet matched perfectly with the aesthetics of the rest of our purchases. Our bathroom was not large enough to get a his and hers sink, but we like sharing so it works out fine for us.

My husband was really picky about the bathroom lights, but he seemed to like these. And he really wanted this mirror to go with. Two more purchases off the list!!

We realised that there wouldn't be enough storage in the sink cabinets so we decided to order this storage unit as well. We loved the clean lines and the open and closer storage. Also it matched the sink cabinet.

I also really liked this shelving unit and the matching stool. You can never go wrong with too much storage, and I thought it would be a nice place to display pretty towels, flowers, candles, art, ect...

The stool will be perfect for putting a book and a towel on when I indulge in a nice long bath. Oh how I am looking forward to that day.

Master bathroom shopping trip # 1

We had been to a few of the big name home hardware stores and didn't see anything we really liked. So we decided to check out a small bathroom store my dad suggested. While we originally went in to window shop we ended up buying all the pieces for our master bathroom (of course after we carefully sourced prices at other places).

The biggest purchase of the room and the focal point would be the bathtub. I needed it to be just right, and after not too much searching we came upon this beauty by Alcove. We bought it on the spot.

We loved the mix of modern and classic with this wall faucet from Riobel. We decided to with this entire line for the master bathroom.

The second thing we knew we wanted was a separate glass enclosed shower. We found the perfect one to fit our layout and the look we were going for.

This is the Riobel shower set we got. Loved the idea of having a rain head as well as a hand held one so we could adjust the shower to our liking. My husband is 6`1 and I`m 5`5, so we needed something we both could use comfortably.We absolutely loved this Kholer Serif sink. The rounded yet sharp edge gave it a masculine and feminine feel. We also really like how it looked with the Riobel faucet we got to go with it.

Last but not least was the toilet. Now while being an entirely functional piece, we still wanted it to look good and once we saw this Kholer Serif toilet we knew we had found the one. The shape of the basin and the pull handle was selling point for us, and it also matched our sink which was a bonus. We made sure to get a slow closing lid too and I don't know how we lived for so long without one.

Room by room

Finally all the main components of the house were in place and it was time to start putting the rooms together. Bathrooms, kitchen, bedrooms, so many rooms and so little time. But for me this where the fun begins, this is where I get to finally see all our hard work come to fruitation.

It's time for a little shopping :)

Tiled over

Now that we had the wood flooring all laid out we had the other flooring to consider.
We knew we wanted tile in all three bathrooms as well as in the mudroom. So off to the store we went!


Our first stop was to Home Depot. While we originally weren't there for flooring, but we found a deal we couldn't pass up. Remember how originally we wanted to have slate in our kitchen, well we decided to make due with slate in the mudroom instead. And low and behold there was a sale on grey slate tile at Home Depot that very day. We called my mom for the measurements and filled out chart. It was a heavy load but we got it all home.


For the three bathrooms we ended up at a large flooring specialised store called Lanctot. We had to go back several times before we could make up our minds. There was so much selection, and while we knew what we wanted it was hard to narrow it down.

For the master bathroom we wanted marble square tile so that was pretty easy to find.

For the family bathroom we went with a large rectangular grey porcelain tile that we both fell in love with right away.

Finally for the powder room we decided to go with something a bit more fun. It was a small room so we knew we could get away with our choice.....a light grey fabric pattern ceramic tile.

We originally wanted to install the tiles ourselves, but with time running out and Neil at work everyday we decided to hire someone to do the work for us. Great idea, because it was allot more than we could have handled and he did a great job.

The wood under our feet

Traditionally old farmhouses had wood floors, and to keep our houses farmhouse charm we wanted to keep all the flooring already there.

Living room and dining room
The old section of the house had beautiful soft wood pine floors on the ground level. We hired someone to sand and varnish this section and loved how they came out. So much lighter then expected.

For the kitchen we originally imagined having a grey slate tile laid down throughout, but the size of the kitchen meant it would be a pricey affair. What we weren't expecting was to find the perfect flooring right under our feet. After removing three layers of plywood we discovered the the kitchen originally had soft wood spruce floors. With a little love and TLC, some refinishing and a good dose of varnish the floors turned out even more beautiful then we could have ever imagined.

Kids area
Upstairs in the old section was a problem. The flooring was all original to the house, but there were holes in it from where a chimney used to run through it. It was painted a selection of different colours and our floor sander said the wood wasn't of good enough quality to refinish. We had two options, either fix the holes and paint it, or rip it up and replace the whole thing. The thing was that over the 200 years in existence, the house had slowly sunk a bit and now was a bit crooked. Also in some point in it's history a wall was removed from the ground floor and the upstairs floors bowed. We would have to reinforce the entire floor and this would an expenses we weren't willing to undertake at the time. So we filled in the holes and painted away. While it doesn't go with the flooring in any other part of the house it does add a quirky charm to the kids area of the house. Maybe one day we will fix it, but for now it will have to do.

Master bedroom
The flooring in our bedroom was also painted, and at first we wanted to remove it all and replace it with new flooring so that it would match the extension. However on closer inspection we realised that the floor was extremely unique. It was laid out on an angle and the floor boards were all of various length and width. Our contractor, flooring guy, parents all fell in love with it and told us we had to keep it. We still weren't sure but we decided we were willing to sand it down to see what it would look like without all the paint. Well weren't we surprised.....it was the most interestingly beautiful floor we had ever seen. It was made up of different types of wood and our contractor told us the trees used for this floor most likely came out of the very woods that surrounded our house. We decided to keep it and are so happy we did. However we did have one problem. We had removed a stairwell that came up directly in the middle of the room. We tried to fill it with new wood, but it looked all wrong. What to do?? Then my dad had an idea. Half of the hallway leading into the extension had the same flooring. Instead of having our hallway change flooring halfway through my dad suggested we ripped out the old flooring and use it to fill in the hole in our room. So he took a chainsaw to it and he and my mother placed the flooring in our room puzzle style. It turned out great and it saved us allot of money.


We wanted the extension to feel, well like an extension of the original home. Seeing that all the flooring was soft wood we decided to go with pine. Not only would it match the flooring in the rest of the house it was more than half the price of hardwood. We also saved tons of money by having my dad install the flooring. I even got my hands dirty and helped him lay down the floor in the family room. It felt so good to put my own stamp on my house and it was great working with my dad. Once it was all laid down we had it sanded and varnished.

While every room in our house has a different type of wood flooring we find that it all flows quite well together. The farmhouse feel is intake while at the same time everything is clean and fresh. We love walking around and feeling the creaky old and new floor boards beneath our feet.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We've got walls

With the electrical wiring, the plumbing, the heating system and the insulation all in place it was time to close everything up. It was time for the gyp-rock.
It was so exciting to finally be able to walk into each room and have them separated by actual walls. It was so much easier to see what our house was going to look like.

Once all the gyp-rock was up we had a plasterer come in and finish everything off. My dad actually decided to take some time off work to help with the plastering. He had such a great time doing it that during the next week back at work he quit. We hired him right away to help with the finishing of the house.

This is a photo of the second kids room in the old part. I unfortunately don't have a before photo (it got lost in the shuffle), but it was definitely an eye sore. There were 70's built-ins along the wall, the mouldings were painted black, the walls were stained with water damage and cracked everywhere. Neil and his friend Jason even had to remove the remnants of an old chimney we found hidden in the closet. They had to remove it one brick at a time, from the bottom up. They referred to it as brick jenga.

Well lucky for us my dad started working on it and before we knew we had a beautiful room. I wish I had a picture to compare it to, but trust me this is a 100% better!! Thanks dad :)

The front door

The front door of our house was still not installed and we were anxious to get it in place. We knew that it would change the entire feel of the front part of the house and couldn't wait to see what it looked like.

Here is a reminder of what the original door looked like. While we liked the door and mouldings, it was not insulated and it was broken. We also wanted more light in the front hall.

Not seeing anything we liked in the stores we decided to have our front door costume made by a local tradesman. Both the door and the surrounding windows were handmade by a family who had been in the window and door making business for decades.
It took allot longer to get home than the rest of our doors, but when we finally saw it we knew it was well worth the wait.

We of course needed to paint it before it could be installed, and not wanting to screw it up we decided to hire a painter to do the job.

The final result was just as we had pictured and we couldn't wait to see it put in place. Our contractor careful removed all the mouldings around the old door and told us if all went well he would be able to put them right back up. Bonus!

The old door came out with the add of a chainsaw. It was definitely a sight to see.
The door and window surround went in and the results were very impressive.

The whole area of the house got a face lift. While before the front entrance was a dark place to be avoided, the new entrance is bright and airy and I just want to stay there all day.

I can see clearly now

Before we could crank up the furnace and get water running through our house we needed to get our windows in. Easier said than done. The ones in the new part went in no problem as the frames were built to accommodate the new windows.

We also got the new doors installed. We love the way the french doors turned out. We also love that we now have doors that close and lock.

However there was a mix up with the windows for the old part. We wanted to retain as many period features are possible and keeping the window mouldings was a must. However the person who came to measure our windows assumed we would be replacing the whole thing so ordered the windows a few inches too big. When the contractors went to install them he realised the error and we had to re-order all 4 windows on the ground floor. Doesn't seem like a big deal, but it did set us back a month in getting all the windows replaced. After a months wait the old windows in the dining room and living room were carefully removed and the new ones popped into the old frames. The only problem now was that there were obvious gaps between the frames and the windows are the house had grown a bit crooked in it's old age. For now we would leave it as it was, but eventually we would have to come up with a solution.

Fortunately for us the windows upstairs did not have any mouldings around them so we decided to keep those ones. The only problem was that the plaster around the windows was slightly damaged in order to get the new windows in.

The bay window was finished off with the installation of the new windows.

It is such a great feeling to know that our house is finally all closed in. The windows and doors all look great and we couldn't be happier with the results.

All I want for Christmas....2009

Now in order to move into our house we needed for there to be four major components of our house to be finished.....the insulation, the electricity, the plumbing and the heating. As of mid November none of these things were ready, in fact only a few had actually been started.


When it came to electricity we essentially had two different houses to deal with. We had the old section which needed to have the old wire removed and the new installed, all without destroying the plaster. The 'new' part of the house needed to be entirely wired and a new electrical box needed to be put in. Our electrical crew made up of a father and son team, with a two extra guys to help considering the size of the project. Two guys worked on the older part, while the other two did the new wiring. By the time they finished, the other two were only half way down the old section. We had to remove the baseboards in the downstairs section so they could cut into the wall and fish up some wires. We were also in the process of redoing the ceiling in one section of the old house so they were able to get the new wiring upstairs as well without damaging any of the walls. It was a long process and it took many, many months to finish, but eventually we had a fully upgraded electrical system.


The plumbing problems began a week before we were expecting the plumber to arrive to start. It turned out our plumber couldn't do the job as he had ended up in jail. We frantically called around to all the plumbers we could find, but none were available. We were feeling quite down on ourselves when my good friend Tanya gave me a call. She said one of her fathers very good friends was a retired plumber and if the job wasn't too overwhelming he would consider coming our of retirement to help us. Well he came, he saw and he agreed to do the job. He brought along another retired plumber to help and we were happy to soon see water pipes going into place. It took a while and there was mishap after mishap (which I will got into greater detail later), but eventually the plumbing was all finished.


The heating system took a long time to install, not because of the actually work load, but because it took us forever to find a installer that wasn't going to rob us blind. We had no idea how expensive a new heating system would be and were quite shocked when the first quote came back so high. We did need to install a new electric furnace, an all new venting system, a heat pump and an air exchanger, but the price given was way too high for our budget. We got a second and a third quote and again the price was too high. We were beginning to think we would have to break the bank to get the job done. Then my mom suggested a guy who did the heating system at the hospital where she worked. He came and asked us straight up how much we could afford and what needed to be done. After a tour of the house he offered us the full package for a great deal. It was a few hundred under budget. We said signed on the dotted line and two weeks later our house was fully set up with a new heating system.


The insulation had already been sprayed on the outside walls of the old part of the house. However they needed to wait until all the electricity, heating and plumbing was finished before they could move in to spray the inside walls. Once all the above was finished the crew came in with their space like suits and sprayed out walls with an assortment of colours......walls of pink, purple and yellow greeted us the next time we walked through the house. We also had the attack of both sections of the house filled with cellulose. A messy but necessary job.

This picture pretty much sums up the work done over the next few months in our home. While we weren't in for Christmas, the gift of having a warm, insulated house with new electrical and plumbing was good enough for us.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our frame of mind

The first week of November 2009 saw two major events in our lives. The christening of our daughter and the frames of our walls were put up.

Our daughter Niamh was christened on a beautiful Sunday. The sun was shining and the weather was beautiful.

Our daughter is truly blessed.

We had all our family and friends down for the event and over to my parents place for the after party. While we couldn't yet host a party at our place it didn't stop us from bringing everyone over for a tour of the house. For us there was allot of progress, but for those who had never seen the place before it just looked like a major renovation sight. As we showed them around we tried to explain where the rooms would be and what the house would look like when it was finished.

Everyone was really interested and excited for us, but to be honest most of them had a hard time envisioning the final outcome. To get an idea of what the tour was like here are a few photos.

While to us these frames meant mudrooms, pantries, bedrooms and bathrooms, to everyone else it was just a bunch of wood. We now were very eager to get things done so everyone could see what we saw. We had high hopes of being in our house for Christmas......however with a home renovattion things don't always go as planned.

Friday, November 26, 2010

We've got a plan

As I mentioned in the previous post Neil's cousin helped us out allot by drafting up some blueprints for our house.

His cousin Frank McGrath actually owns an architectural firm in Montreal, so we not only had plans but we also got to meet with a real architect to help us hash out our ideas. They came to visit our house one wintry day in early 2009. We gave them a tour and explained our wish list. I had also came up with my own re-design of the house as well as a look book of all the things I really loved and would like to see included somewhere in our home. We really hoped they could create the house we saw in our minds.

A few months later we received a rough draft by e-mail. While we tweaked a few things here and there, these plans are pretty similar to the final blueprints.

The front of the house (facing west).

The south side of the house where the side kitchen entrance is.

The back of the house, also known as the eastern side.

The north side of the house.

The main floor of the house.

The upper level of the house.

The final blueprints look even better, but unfortunately I do not have an electronic copy of them. We loved looking at our house plans so much I think we might have to get them framed and put them up somewhere in our home.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What a view

As I had mentioned earlier the view from our place is absolutely breathtaking. I feel a sense of peace and calm whenever I look out into our backyard. However a year ago I would not have had the luxury of staring out my kitchen window at the horizon. A year ago our home had only one window on the ground floor facing that direction. We knew as soon as we started the design process that this needed to remedied.

We were very lucky when it came to redesigning our home. While Neil and I knew what we wanted we weren't 100% sure of how things should look. Neil's cousin was an architect and offered, as a house warming gift, to have a plan drawn up for us. We were so thankful as it helped us on so many levels. We were able to present proper blueprints to the zoning board and the town for approval. We were able to give a copy to our contractor to plan around. And most important we had a copy to stare at on the days when things weren't going so well and know that one day our dream house would be realised.

Because of the help of Neil's cousin we were able to recreate our home to have allot of windows. 35 to be exact, and most of which faced the back. We were very excited when our crew started cutting the holes in our house to make room for the new windows. We finally got to see the plans come to life.

I no longer had to imagine what it would feel like to stand in my kitchen and gaze out my windows.......I finally had the view I'd always wanted.

Off with the old....

By the time the roof is on we are enjoying our first Fall at home in 4 years. The last 3 years we had been up North and the year before that we were living in Scotland. And lucky for us the weather couldn't have been better, and we were able to enjoy the great outdoors. We also were able to keep working on the house well into the evenings and week-ends. We wanted to get as much done on our own to save money.

Our next big project was to take off the old siding, as we needed to get the outside of the house ready for insulation.

With the oldest section of the home we couldn't insulate from inside as the walls are all plaster and we had no desire to take them down. So off came the old siding and our construction crew added 3 inch planks around the house so that there would be something to attach the new siding to once the spray foam went on. They also wanted to spray the foundation of the old house, as spraying in the crawl space under the house is not an option. So we started digging a trench around the house while we are at it.

Meanwhile the crew got busy on recreating the bay window. While it won't be the original I am happy to know that we are trying to rebuild it to look identical.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And the roof goes on

After the old roof was completely removed the crew started working on getting the new one up. First they installed the new roof trusses on the old part of the house.

We now had a single roof line and it looked great. We were excited for the day when our house would look like one big house. If it all worked out we wouldn't be able to tell where the old house ends and the new one begins.

They then added a layer of plywood to the trusses in preparation for the steel roofing that they would be putting up next. The Vicwest roofing went on great and we couldn't have been happier with the results. It looked just liked we had envisioned it.

The next phase would be to tackle the oldest section of the house. The old tin had to come off and we had to insulate this section from the outside. This was a very tricky job as the old roof was resting right on the old slates and plaster of the rooms upstairs. One false move and someones foot was going right through into Niamh's future bedroom.

Well the old roof came off with out a hitch, however there was a slight problem. The company that was supposed to come to do the spray foam wasn't available to come until the following week.....and it was supposed to rain in two days. I frantically called every insulation place I could find and finally one agreed to come the following day. Our house was saved.....for a price! They charged an extra fee for having to do a emergency job.

The roof was prepped and the new roofing was put on.

We are happy to know that we will now have a strong new roof over our heads.

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