Saturday, November 26, 2011

Will It Ever Be Done?

It's been a long time since my last post (June 2011), and I wish I could say "We're done!" ... but, sadly, that's not the case.  [I think the main reason for such an absence has been a very old laptop at home which made doing a blog almost impossible (who knew six years old was old?!) ... I just got myself a lovely new laptop and feel much better about working on this blog from home now.  Yeah!! :)]

We are still renovating.  Oh, lots of things have happened - in reno land and in our lifes.  But even though it's been five months we still have a fair bit to go.  DH's Father had a stroke and after 3 and 1/2 weeks in hospital he died.  So, lot's of stress, sadness, and time away from reno's to be with family.

So what HAS happened?  The upstairs floors are all in.  The downstairs floors have just been installed.  About three weeks ago I lost my kitchen to the Reno Monster.  DH said it would be a week, but the kitchen is still missing.  He would say it was all my fault because I pressed for the old backsplash tiles to be removed as I thought they were old-fashioned and didn't suit the changes we were implementing (I still think I'm right).  When he took them off half the drywall went with them ... and he was forced to cut out and put in new drywall ... which meant mudding, sanding, more mudding, and more sanding.  That's finally done.  The painter we hired started Wednesday, was sick most of Thursday, but back in good form on Friday and Saturday.  So far, lot's of mudding to fill nicks in the walls, followed by the obligatory sanding.  To date, the kitchen looks to be painted.  The upstairs guest room and hallway ceillings are painted and the hallway walls, including the stairs have been painted.  Left?  Upstairs, our bedroom, the main bathroom and our ensuite.  Downstairs, the ceillings, the living and dining room, and the powder room.

Since the kitchen looks to be painted I'm hoping the kitchen cabinets that are currently sitting in my living room will move to their permanent homes.  That would give us back the living and dining rooms.  Of course, once the cabinets have vacated their current squat the painter will move in forcing my four year old and I to retreat to the upstairs where DH will likely be nailing in baseboards.

I'm going to stop my whining now (there is a very definite goal in mind here which I am party to), and include some photos of what's been happening.  Here's my temporary kitchen (located in the dining area - two feet of counter with the microwave and toaster oven on top ... and opposite my "kitchen" is the bookcase turned china cabinet that holds all our plates, bowls, cups, cans of food, sauces, spices (very much edited for now):


It's a good thing I've camped a lot, and in the last few years cooked many a meal in an RV kitchentte!  Here's what the old kitchen looked like:

Right now, the kitchen ... lacks something ...

Yes, those cabinets that are the big, wooden elephants in the living room.  Sigh.  Patience.  I must practice patience.

Next time, I hope to have pictures of a complete kitchen.  I'm not sure I'll know how to use it any longer :).  In the meantime, I fantasize by shopping for appliances.  Lovely, shiny, new appliances.  Hmmm ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In the Middle of Nowhere?

OK.  I felt bad about yesterdays post because I only had one photo to offer.  This was mainly due to me being lazy ... I had more photos, but they were sideways and I didn't feel like fixing them!  So, this morning before work I fixed them.  Here are a couple:

The photo on the left is DH just in the process of laying the first row - it was important to get this line true as all the other rows will feed off it and it would be awful to have a floor that doesn't look straight!  The second photo shows where DH has gotten to.  He thinks the remainder of the guest room should go much more quickly since he'll be working with the tong of the board.  What you see here took four days - but more than two days was pulling out the carpet and underlay and putting down sheets of plywood since the old subfloor was just particle board with some rather big holes in it.

Just in case you wonder where all the furnishings from the guest room have gotten to:

This is our master bedroom ... sigh.  Oh, yeah, we have also rented a large storage locker, so this is only the bits that haven't been moved over!  I spend my evenings trying to keep a narrow pathway open.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where Has the Time Gone?

My intention has always been to update this blog at least once a week.  I do, like many who blog, have a fulltime other job.  Blogging is just a new found outlet for creativity and navel gazing ... but, still.  Come on.  I should have had more entries by now.  I blame it on the reno's.  Renovations suck you in.  It's like an addiction.  You don't notice the downward spiral until it's too late to get out.

The main bathroom?  Still not finished.  I think the last couple of times I posted it sounded like things were solved.  Well ... um ... sort of ... not?  We decided against the custom vanity.  DH didn't want Ikea for the bathroom (although he loves Ikea kitchen cabinets go figure).  In the end we ordered a vanity through Sears that was on special.  $729 with taxes.  Only problem was that there was an eight week back order.  That meant early June.  It did arrive a week early.  DH picked it up from the very nearby local Sears Home Outlet centre and brought it home.  The cabinet was damaged.  They forgot to screw in some pieces.  Some pieces were only glued, with no screws/nails.  a front-end of a drawer fell off because the screws used for that part were WAY TOO short.  So, DH phoned Sears.  They gave us 25% off.  Fine.  OK.  DH figured he'd quickly mend things and we'd be finished.  But, NOOOO.  After fixing the box, he went to put the top of the vanity on it.  Chipped and cracked.  It's an issue too.  DH calls Sears again.  A replacement for the top will take ... eight weeks!  No way!!  Ugh.  So, we are in phone purgatory with Sears right now while we try to convince them to take this damaged top back and/or give us our money back so we can drop by Home Depot to get the same sized top for approximately the same price.  Yes ... we find out now that we could have driven to our local Home Depot and gotten not just the top, but the cabinet too.  For about the same price.  And ... we could touch it, check it out, make sure it was all in good order before bringing it home.


What else?  DH is finding laying hardwood floors harder then he imagined.  He's frustrated because he just assumed that since he was a Finishing Carpenter he'd have no problems laying down some straight pieces of wood.  But he's struggling.  It's taken him a week of vacation time to learn how to do it right.  I know he (and I) thought he'd have the whole upstairs complete.  Nope.  Maybe 1/7?  Maybe.  We're hoping now that he has the hang of it it'll go quicker.  Of course, what he's done is beautiful.  DH does wonderful work.  If you ever get anything he's made you'll understand you are getting quality.  But, oh man ... this is going to take way longer than I'd thought.

And now, for your viewing enjoyment some recent reno photos.  Well, OK, one photo.  Remember, I've been sucked into the addiction of Renovations and have no sense of reality.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In the Eye of the Storm

If you've every been in a hurricane, seen them on the news, or watched a movie in which they played a starring role you know that phenomena they talk about - being in the eye of the storm.  Complete chaos all around, but a centre of calm.  I wish I had that ... instead, it's complete chaos, all around, all the time.

This is our master bedroom.  It should be my place of retreat.  A calm, quiet place.  It is fairly quiet, but alas, it's not calming for me.

Having said that, I know from experience that when you feel the most overwhelmed by the mess around you, you are actually moving forward and nearing the end.

A month ago I would have sworn that we wouldn't be able to complete renovations by June, not even by the end of August.  I was thinking it was going to be more like December.  Now, in the middle of this mess?  I see the end.  I have gained hope from this mess.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Two Weeks Later ...

Last time I wrote that we were going to be spending $2300 for two custom vanities to be built.  A couple days after writing that DH and I had a long hard talk and agreed that $2300 was way too much.  So, DH got on the phone with Sears and bought a 48" vanity with sink for the main bathroom.  Total cost?  $702 with tax.  It should be here June 7th.  For our ensuite he was all set to build his own box (cost of a sheet of plywood), but after looking at it in detail DH realized that it's really only the counter and doors that look worn out.  So, instead of wasting time and effort on a whole build, he's simply going to build new doors and re-laminate the insides.  We figure we can get a slab of granite for the top - we'll get one of those sinks you place on top, so the cut-out will be minimal (there is only a $50 difference if we want to go with an undermount sink ... so we might still change our minds on that score).  All-in-all we've probably saved $1300-1500.  We can use this money for the granite counter in the ensuite.  Still a huge savings.

For the flooring in the main bathroom we got a great deal on travertine tiles for just over $200.  Now, DH is great at laying tiles.  Being a Finishing Carpenter, he is used to exacting detail and he uses this when laying tiles ... but it's not his profession and he always feels like a professional tiler would do a better, quicker job.  So, when we purchased the tiles he asked them if they knew of anyone who could lay the tiles.  Enter Kevin.  DH met with him and talked details.  They agreed on a cash deal of $600 for the whole job.  I booked off a day to be there.  Kevin and his sidekick arrived right on time, and seemed to know what they were doing.  Kevin showed me the grout they were going to use - something with the yummy name of Irish Cream (note to self: beware of any remodelling product with delicious sounding names because it's a rouse!).  I didn't really like the colour, but assumed that DH and Kevin had discussed this choice.  As they finished up Kevin proudly showed me their work.  The grout colour wasn't great, but I figured it was OK for our purposes and figured DH thought it would blend in with the adjacent Tigerwood flooring that would be installed in the hallway just outside the bathroom.  What I was not happy with were two things:  1) a huge grout line beside the bathtub, narrower at one end then the other - the narrowest point was probably at least 1 cm and at the widest around 2 cm!  Huge, ugly.  Kevin said they had no choice because of the curving bathtub wall?  2) Travertine tiles are very individualistic, meaning one tile can be quite different from another.  When DH laid travertine in the ensuite we spent almost half a day laying out a pattern on the carpet and selecting the best pieces for where they would be most noticed.  Kevin and his sidekick picked two of the most hideous ones front and centre next to the bathtub where your eye just naturally goes to.  Two of the nicest looking tiles were placed where the vanity and toilet will hide them!  Ugh!  When DH came home he was VERY upset.  He fumed and cursed and almost pulled up the whole floor.  Not only was it not great looking, but once we started walking on it we realized how unevenly the tiles had been laid.  DH is going to be phoning the tile shop to let them know so that they stop using this guy.  Poor DH - now he says he's going to DO EVERYTHING.  I can't blame him.  It was a total waste of time and $600.  Sigh.

Here's what the bathroom looked like before.  Grey laminate countertop, grey lino ... boring, tired, old.

Here's the gutted bathroom:

I don't know if I want to show you the hideous tile work.  I'll upload the photos from my camera to my PC and decide!

Work coming up:  re-glazing; packing up and moving items so DH can start installing hardwood flooring on second floor; installing hardwood floor.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How Much Can a Bathroom Cost?

My Husband (let's call him DH - Dear Husband - from now on, shall we?) and I decided in December 2010 that we would begin to renovate our townhouse in the new year in preparation for selling it.  We talked about what needed to be done and what we should do first.  Bathrooms was the obvious starting point in our minds.  Small, but somewhat laborious, we figured each of the three wouldn't take too long and with DHs expertise as a Finishing Carpenter, there wouldn't be any problems he couldn't sort out easily.

How wrong could we be.

The powder room on the main floor was first.  We had done the laundry room floor in the fall with a lovely dark grayish tile bought at Rona.  I thought it was stylish and modern with it's longer than wide profile, but DH wasn't convinced we'd made the right choice.  He thought we should have gone for the lighter, slightly brown version ... but he wasn't about to start over.  Since the laundry and powder rooms are right next to each other it made sense to use the same tile.  So, DH pulled everything out, stuffed the toilet flange and began to tile.  When he was finished he hated it (I still liked it).  He complained that he couldn't find any vanity to complement the tile (I found many I liked).  After several weeks scouring the Internet and the local stores he found an unused vanity on Craigslist for $150.  Great deal.  He put it in and was happy with it.  (So happy that we got my Mom one for her Master bedroom ensuite.)

Next up, the main bathroom and Master bedroom ensuite.  We had debated whether to pull out the tub in the main bathroom.  It was original (think mid 80's), small and shallow ... but if we pulled it out we'd need to re-tile the bathtub surround.  It was going to be a lot of work and DH was really uncomfortable about what he saw as major plumbing work.  In the end, a realtor we really like, gave us the name of a local re-glazer.  For $1200 we are getting the bathtub, the tile surround, and the ensuite shower re-glazed a basic white.  We think we've probably saved $3000-$5000 along with many, many hours of work.

Of course, the tub and shower are the least of our problems.  It's the darn vanities ... again.  48" in the main bathroom.  We can actually find something from Ikea and several other places that would work.  But, the 60" vanity in the Master bedroom ensuite is causing us real grief.  Over the vanity on the left side is a window, meaning we have to have a vanity with a sink placed to the right.  Not hard you say?  Ha - double sinks no problem, but it would be awkward with the layout of the bathroom.  A single, right-hand side vanity is what we need.  We've searched everywhere.  Nothing under $5000.  In the end?  DH happened upon an old co-worker who had started his own business.  For $2300 he's going to build us the vanity boxes for both bathrooms.  We still have to get the under-mounting sinks and counter (l'd like granite - who wouldn't, right?).  So, the $5000 we saved with our re-glazing project will be used for what I'd always assumed would be the easiest part of the bathroom reno's - the vanities.

Next, I'm going to take some pictures of these bathrooms so you can really see what's happening.

Work coming up:  find tiles for main bathroom floor; re-glazing; installing our custom-made vanities; getting the counters measured, cut and installed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My First Post

This is my first post.  My first blog.  It's exciting and also, to be honest, a little unnerving.  You'd think at my age I wouldn't be nervous - that I wouldn't care what people think.  In my day job I place content on the web all the time and I don't find that unnerving ... but this?  Perhaps because blogs are personal.  I'm opening myself up for inspection.  People critique blogs all the time.  Perhaps you wouldn't point out the garish colours of someones shirt, but you think nothing of judging and voicing your opinion on someones blog.

So, here I am in my garish coloured shirt and you're probably asking yourself "What is this blog about?"  I have so many different interests in life, but I've decided that my first blog will be about our renovations on our current townhouse and our goal to move into a house with a yard, a workshop for my Husband, a garden for me, space for our young son ... and did I mention that we're thinking of buying this home with my Mom so it needs to have two suites - one for us and one for my Mom?  Some would call us mad, but I love my Mom and can only think of all the positives to doing it this way.  The most obvious reason is that it gives us that much more money to widen our choices; but, for me, it's about the special bond I see between my son and his Oma (grandma).

So, with that in mind, let the madness begin!