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.

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