Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back

2009 was certainly a big year for us.  On the eve of 2010, we thought we’d look back at some of the highlights, lowlights and most memorable moments from our renovation:


  • Purchasing our first home (obviously!)  Remember how happy and well-rested we were when we first got the keys?


  • Completing our new kitchen, which (once finally finished) turned out even better than we had hoped.
  • Getting so much help from all our friends and family.  This definitely helped keep us sane and allowed us to get things done so much faster. 
  • Making the front of the house a little more appealing.
  • Finishing the demolition in one day!



  • Discovering carpenter ants in the cold storage room. Ew!
  • When the only functioning bathroom had no walls.20090803_1482
  • Moving in without a finished kitchen.  That last month of eating fast food was the hardest one of all!
  • When the City of Toronto workers were on strike.  Waiting for the building inspector to go back to work caused some delays.

And, as with any renovation, there were the projects that didn’t go quite as planned and the embarrassing pictures that didn’t get shared the first time around:

  • Like working in the attic…

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  • And installing the vapour barrier when we were tired, grumpy and frustrated.  We called this thecorner of shame.” It was NOT one of our finer moments…


But all in all, it’s been a pretty great year.  Even with the ups and downs of spending most of 2009 in the midst of a major renovation, we consider ourselves extremely lucky. 

So, as we sip our Veuve and celebrate another year, we look forward to a new year with our beautiful home, wonderful family and great friends.  Happy New Year everyone!

Cheers 2

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Kitchen for Christmas

Our kitchen received an early Christmas present: our granite countertops were installed this past weekend!

We visited a number of stone places around the city and ended up going with Pro Stone, which we found on Home Stars.  Pro Stone handled both the fabrication and installation of the granite. The granite we selected is called Giallo Ornamentale.


The installation took a couple of hours.  Once the counters were in, we had to wait 24 hours before we could install the kitchen faucet.  Then we hooked up the stove and dishwasher. 

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Finally, we put together our new Ingolf stools from IKEA. 


The colour of the granite looks great with our white cabinets and the wall colour (Benjamin Moore’s Ballet White).  All in all, we’re thrilled with the look of our new kitchen.

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Over the holidays, we’ll spend some time finding a permanent home for our small appliances.

We feel really lucky that, even with the Christmas rush, were able to get our counters installed before the holidays.  Having full use of our kitchen (and not having to see the pizza delivery guy every night!) will really help make our house feel like home.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Final Energy Audit

After all of the changes we made to the house, we were ready for our post-retrofit energy audit.  We were definitely looking forward to finding out what rebates we would qualify for!

Here’s an overview of some of the energy upgrades we told you about earlier:

  • Replaced our oil boiler and rads with a new 95% efficient forced air gas furnace.
  • Added spray foam insulation to the exterior walls, which had no insulation before.
  • Replaced a number of the old windows.
  • Put in two new toilets – both from the City of Toronto’s approved list for the Residential Toilet Replacement Program.  Dave’s choice was the American Standard Champion 4 (eligible for a $60 rebate) and Jen’s choice was the Toto Aquia Dual Flush (eligible for a $75 rebate).

Some other things that we haven’t had a chance to blog about yet are our new hot water heater and heat recovery ventilator.

Hot Water Heater
When we got the house, there was an electric hot water tank.  We decided to switch to a tankless water heater.  The small size takes up a lot less space in our basement.  We’ve been really happy with it.


Heat Recovery Ventilator
We also decided to install a heat recovery ventilator (HRV).  An HRV takes stale air from indoors and exchanges it with fresh air from outside.  It transfers the heat from the stale air to the fresh air, reducing the amount of energy needed for the furnace to heat the air.  With all the air pipes, it’s a pretty bulky looking system.  We call it ‘the octopus.’


All of our HVAC and gas work was done by Domilco Ltd.

At the end of our post-retrofit audit, we got the good news… we are eligible for the maximum rebate amounts from the federal and provincial governments!  We also learned that the City of Toronto has a new program and we’ll be eligible for a rebate for our insulation.

It feels good to know that we were able to make our old house a little more energy efficient.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Basement Bathroom Progress

Once the tiling was finished in the basement bathroom, we shifted our focus to getting the rest of the house ready for us to move in. 

This week, we were able to spend some time working in the basement again.  We managed to complete the plumbing for the shower and install the vanity.

Originally, we thought we wanted a granite countertop for the vanity.  But, after spotting a glass counter and sink at Rona, we changed our minds. IMG_2602 IMG_2604

It turns out that the colour of the glass looks great with the walls, which we painted with Benjamin Moore’s Shaker Beige.  So far, we’re really happy with everything we selected for the bathroom.


Now, all that’s left is to install the baseboards and order the glass for the shower walls and door.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Deck the Porch

Since we’re still living among boxes, we won’t be putting up a Christmas tree this year.  But, to make sure we don’t forget about the holidays entirely, our family helped us decorate our front porch.

We managed to find our wreath after the move, and with a new bow (thanks mom!), it’s looking great.  The two urns help to brighten things up. 

So, while our house won’t be lit up like the Griswold’s this year, at least we have a little bit of Christmas spirit!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Light Fixtures

Our final electrical work is finished!  The last of the work included the installation of our new pendant lights (from Royal Lighting) over the kitchen peninsula.


We also installed under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen and puck lights inside the glass cabinet.

In terms of other light fixtures, we decided to start with the rooms we will be using the most.  We bought new fixtures for the master bedroom, upstairs bathroom and front hall.  We’ll update the rest of the rooms down the road.

Master Bedroom
Pendant with drum shade from Royal Lighting


Upstairs Bathroom
Wall sconce from Royal Lighting


Front Hall
Crystal pendant from Home Depot


We also passed our final electrical inspection by the Electrical Safety Authority.  Thanks to Dennis, Simon and the rest of the crew from DSK Electric!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kitchen: Sneak Peak

A couple of days before we moved in, we got a pleasant surprise from our kitchen designer.  Our kitchen cabinets had arrived in Toronto and were ready to be installed.

We were pretty excited to see how they would turn out and if our risk would pay off.

We don’t have the countertops yet (we’ve selected our granite and it’s supposed to be installed before Christmas) but here’s a sneak peak at the cabinets:

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We are really happy with the cabinets.  The quality is better than we expected and the workmanship (especially the crown moulding) is great.  So far it seems that our risk paid off!

We’ll share some more photos once all the appliances and the countertops are installed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New Hardwood Floors

While we were able to save the original hardwood floors on the second storey, we decided to install new hardwood on the main floor.  With the amount of demolition we did, we knew that the floors would be too difficult to save.

Originally, we thought we wanted oak flooring.  But, after looking around and doing some research, we decided to try something a bit different.

We chose Sucupira (Brazilian Walnut).  It’s a medium brown exotic wood that is supposed to be quite durable and stands up well to lots of traffic.  Since it’s on our main floor – including the foyer and kitchen – durability is important to us. 

The hardwood floor installation was one of the final projects we completed before we moved in. 

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We’re really happy with how the floors turned out.  The Sucupira is a really warm colour and it’s a great match for the colour of stain we used on the stairs and upstairs floors. 


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We’re In!

We’ve been absentee bloggers this past week as we’ve scrambled to get ready for the move.  After almost seven months of work, yesterday was the big day.

We need to do some organizing before we share all our updates, but here are a few of things we managed to get done (or mostly done) before we moved in:

  • We selected and installed all the remaining light fixtures.
  • We installed our upstairs bathroom vanity and mirror.
  • We laid hardwood floor throughout the main floor.
  • Our kitchen cabinets arrived and were installed!

We’ll post some photos as soon as we’re settled.  In the meantime, here’s a shot of our moving crew relaxing after setting the record for the fastest move ever.  Thanks guys!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Crunch Time

With just over a week until we move into the house, we’re busy trying to finish as much as we can.  We had some help this week from a bunch of people, including Handyman Superstar Challenge winner Jason Best!  Jason and Chris came by to help with doors and trim:


Here are a few of the things we’ve been working on this week:

We’ve installed all the baseboards, door trim and window trim on the second floor.

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We’ve hung most of the doors.

We’ve finished painting the stair risers and railing spindles white.

We ordered California shutters for the master bedroom and living room windows. 

We’ve moved everything off of the main floor and into the basement so that we can lay the hardwood floor this week.

There is still lots to do, so we’ll be busy scrambling to finish up this week.  We did get some good news about our kitchen though.  It arrived in Prince Rupert, B.C. and is about to enjoy a train ride across the country.  We expect it to arrive the same week we move in, so hopefully we won’t have to live without a kitchen for very long!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Getting Rid of the Green – Step Three

We lucked out with some good weather this past weekend!  With temperatures above 10°C and lots of sun, we decided to take the opportunity to prime and paint the area around our front door before the winter.

Our neighbours lent us a sample of the paint they used on the exterior of their house, so we took to it to Benjamin Moore to be colour matched.  We ended up with Seaspray, which was a pretty close match.

After one coat of primer, two coats of paint and some caulking, we were all done.  It looks so much better. 

Here’s the before:


And here’s how it looks now:

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Goodbye green!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Getting Rid of the Green – Step Two

As mentioned in a previous post, we’ve been working on removing the ugly green colour from the front of our house.  After replacing the shingles and flashing, we got out the heat gun and started tackling the thick layers of paint around the front door.

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We’ve had some complaints from our friends and family, who will now have to learn our address to be able to find our house.  But, all the neighbours seem to be pretty happy with the transformation.  Next step: paint it to match our next door neighbours.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Old Hardwood Floors

The original hardwood floors were in pretty good shape on the second storey.  We decided to get them refinished so we protected the floors with paper before we started the demolition.


Once the drywall was finished, we hired Tip Top Flooring to refinish the floors, stairs and railing.  (Thanks to Maggie and Rob at Okay, Now What? for the referral!)

We knew that we wanted to go darker than what was originally there, but selecting the stain colour was a lot harder than we had anticipated.  After hours of staring at samples and changing our minds a couple of times, we settled on Early American.

IMG_2418 IMG_2416 IMG_2422 IMG_2426Given that the floors, stairs and railing are three different types of wood, we weren’t sure how they would turn out.  Fortunately, the colour was a good choice and we’re really happy with the results.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Basement Bathroom Tiling

Our new basement bathroom is really coming along.  Since the main bathroom upstairs is pretty tiny, we decided to include a nice large shower in our basement bathroom.

Like upstairs, we used Schluter Kerdi waterproofing on the shower walls.  We used Schluter Ditra on the floor.


The tiling was finished last week and it looks great.  We’re really happy with our choice of travertine tiles.


Next , we’ll install glass walls and a glass door on the front of the shower. 

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