Archives: renovations

mini kitchen reno

We did a mini kitchen reno back in December (when I say “we” I really mean Steve).

When we did our mega main floor reno over a year ago I had the crafty idea to paint over our old stained yellow vinyl floors (it was a bad idea by the way).

Although they looked great for about a week, it was a total fail. The floors stayed tacky with all kinds of dirt and grime sticking to them -so gross. In the end the floor was disgusting and it was not something that I could’ve lived with for much longer.

Knowing that it would be a long while until we would be able to do a full gut and reno of the kitchen, we decided over the Christmas holidays that we could manage a fast and cheap reno to tide us over until the real thing.

To fix the crap paint job I did on the vinyl floor we decided to try out using plywood for the floors and then figured we might as well redo the counter tops with plywood too.

We also replaced our backsplash with subway tiles. There’s plans to do a paint job for two accent walls. The paint has been purchased but has yet to make it onto any walls yet.

It was a fast and furious reno -did I mention that Steve did this entire reno in two days?!

During all this chaos we also organized our spice shelf and said good-bye to our kitchen tape collection.

Not to worry we didn’t get rid of the tapes! They’ve just found a new home up in the attic. I remember when we rediscovered our mixed tapes and old tape collections and got many solid nostalgic re-listens. We’ll have to wait a few more years before I willingly slide one of those tapes in the cassette player without letting out a mega groan.

still use this bad boy everyday


The trim is finally up!  During the renos last summer Steve salvaged the old original 10″ baseboards, which have been painstakingly reaffixed to their appropriate walls.  It was a tough job as each wall’s baseboard did not necessarily measure up or match with the pieces that we had left over post reno.  The size of the baseboard from wall to wall varied anywhere from 9 to 11″ tall.  So it was a matter of puzzling everything back together and making some nice clean angled corner cuts too.  So happy that Steve took on this precision work.

old 10" trim, victorian house

Luckily this time around we had a little help from our friend the nail gun.  This saved me from my usually assigned task of tapping in nail heads with a counter sink and hammer (groan).  Thank you compressed air nail gun, you were my savior!

The outcome was grand.  We went with a soft semi-gloss grey, and added another piece of 2-3″ trim to help with the gap that appeared between the wall and floors during the reno when 4 layers of flooring was ripped out.

refurbished 10" victorian trim

Last we painted the interior front and basement doors with a nice dark blue-black, which I feel makes everything look nice, clean and polished.

Sometimes it feels like we still have so much more to do, but when I think about it retrospectively, we are living in a totally different space that pretty much looks unrecognizable to how it looked when we moved in 2.5 years ago.  I love it!



easy peasy

As much as I dislike cheap forms of laminate “wood” flooring (like the kind that looks like a sticker of wood pasted onto plastic) I do still think that our kitchen looked better with the crappy laminate than it did for the past 4-5 months with the super ugly 1990′s floral laminate tiles that were faded yellow and just gross (Steve would beg to disagree ).  I took it upon myself to make an executive decision to paint the tiles a cement grey. I know it is a major painting faux-pas to paint atop plastic tiles as typically it’s difficult for paint to adhere to a surface like laminate, but if the folks at Hindsvik say you can do it, then I believe that it will work!

Ouno Design made it sound soooo easy peasy.  The whole thing although not hard, was quite a process.

1. Empty all furniture from the kitchen

2. Sweep, dust, vacuum floors

3. Wash the walls and baseboards -eww they get so dirty behind fridges and ovens

4.  Wash the floors (2-3 times with just water, 2-3 times with TSP to get rid of the glossy finish)

5.  Sand entire floor & vacuum

6.  Wash floors again

7. Paint first coat

8. Wait 24-48 hrs.

9.  Paint second coat

10.  Wait another 2-3 days before moving any furniture

11. Move all furniture back into kitchen (and start to eat like a normal person who has a functioning kitchen does)

12. Don’t wash floors for 3 weeks!


Hoping to move everything back in tomorrow, and here’s to wishing that the paint sticks to the tiles and doesn’t flake off.  I’m crossing my fingers.

a work in progress

Before and After‘s are my favourite!

I’m happy that I was able to dig up some old photos from 2 years ago, from when we had just moved into our house.

In July we tore down the walls, and then stripped the floors.  There’s still some finishing touches with trim and baseboards that need to be completed.  But for the most part we’re done!  Well almost done with respect to those 2 rooms (there’s still the kitchen, bathroom, and attic).





I can’t believe how far things have come in such a short time.  There’s still a lot to tackle, but for now I can just sit back and enjoy the bright open space that we’ve created on the main floor.  Sighhhh.

painted black

Sometimes when you paint and you use a roller that hasn’t entirely dried yet (and you’re not aware of that fact that it’ll be all wet and runny AND you’re about to paint a ceiling with black paint!), then you end up getting paint all over your face.

The good news on this day was that our bedroom is finally finished, well almost.  There’s no trim and baseboards, but right now, I could care less.  I’m just excited to move out of the cramped living space we’ve been occupying in the interim.

We added a fresh shiny coat of white paint to the bedroom floors too.  Luckily the floors were painted after the black ceiling painting mishap.  Can’t wait to move back in!

The Tammy Faye Bakker smears are from sweat and tears. It stings when you get paint in your eyes.


floor work

Indeed, doing floors is hard.  It took Steve and our handy friend Todd 5 hours of straight hunched over hammer ripping, ear spliting, wrenching and sweating to lift up the 5 layers of flooring that were on top of the original pine plank sub-floor.

pulling nails from old pink plank flooring

I think I pulled up about a million nails.

pulling nails from old pine plank floors

100 year old pink plank floors

There was some repair work needed on a few of the boards.  We found someone who sold old flooring, and although overpriced, they matched up pretty well.  Steve replaced a few of the pieces that were rotting, and filled in the multiple holes.

100 year old pine plank floors

sanding 100 year old pink plank floors

And then on to the sanding.

floor sander, sanding 100 year old pine plank floors

We rented the heavy duty sander from the Depots.  It is a super “heavy duty” sander meant for taking off paint and old varnish, and it’s a scary beast of a machine.  The box in the photo is filled with how much sandpaper it took to sand our floors down.  The sanding dust filled up nearly 3/4 of a garbage bag.

100 years 100 layers

When we first moved into our house, we gave every wall a coat of fresh paint.  After our paint job, upon closer inspection we noticed a slight soft bulging and straight repetitive vertical lines going across the wall at even spaces, and concluded that it was obvious that wallpaper was underneath what was already several layers of paint.  So for this reno we decided to strip the walls down to the original layer of wall.

stripping wallpaper, 100 year old wallpaper, home renovations

stripping wallpaper, 100 year old wallpaper, home renovations

What an undertaking it has been.  There’s been layer upon layer of wallpaper, telling the story of the decades, from 90′s to the 80′s, 70′s 40′s and down sandwiched amongst varying shades and coats of paint.

stripping wallpaper, 100 year old wallpaper, home renovations

stripping wallpaper, 100 year old wallpaper, home renovations

stripping wallpaper, 100 year old wallpaper, home renovations

The colours of the last 1-2 layers of wallpaper were a soft rose and ghostly grey-blue.  Quite beautiful, but in pretty rough shape and smelling old and musty.

and the walls came tumbling down

Still in mid renovation.  The walls are down.  The floors are peeled back, and the original ones are exposed.  We are living in a state of civilized chaos.  The demolition proved to be some what of an excavation.  Many layers of paint and wallpaper, a doll arm, 1980′s baseball cards, and a lot of 100 year old dirt, dust and rubble.

100 year old walls, renovation, old wallpaper

renovation, gutting walls


renovation, tearing walls down, demolition

The wall with the bookshelf was was actually a doorway from way back when.  You could see the roughed out frame of the old doorway trim from behind the drywall.  As you can see in the next photo that wall is now gone.

and so it began

Nearly 2 years ago we started renovating our 100 something year old Victorian row house. And just last week we started demoing the main floor.  More pictures to come soon.

office before & after, renovation

green room, renovation, before & after

Sometimes when I get into something like picking plaster off a wall, I get right into it.  This was me still in my office clothes chipping away at the shared interior wall by the stairs.  We exposed the bricks going all the way up the stairs.  It was an extremely messy, dusty and asthma attack worthy process.

exposing a brick wall

exposing brick wall

new stairs, renovation

New staircase put in.  We cheaped out and got the carpet grade stairs made from pine.  But we stained, painted and finished them, and they look great!  Still need to finish the landing piece, but we’re waiting until we figure out what we’re doing with the floors first.  So long extremely dangerous original staircase!

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