Photo of the day – 4 October 2017

Revision… I didn’t read my contractor’s notes carefully enough – this is actually the opening for our addition!

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A little extra kitchen space will be just behind this plywood.  

I believe that this shows the wall just before they took it out, with the “croix de St-André” to give a little extra support when the wall comes out…

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Les croix de St-André sur rue St-André!

Photo of the day – 2 October 2017

It’s October!  Let’s blow through some cement!

Future window in the basement bedroom

Now that the window measurements are being taken, it’s time to also create some homes for those windows.  One of our desires was to have a little more light in an otherwise cave-like basement – let the sun shine in!

Idea(l) – Kitchen

I struggled as much with the title of this as the text… my dream kitchen?  Honestly, I don’t dream of the room as much as of the things that might happen there.  Ideal kitchen?  Well, ideal for me perhaps, but honestly, so much of the genius of spaces comes in the tiny touches, and for right now, I just want to get the big stuff right.  Appliance placement, cabinet choices, etc.  So these are just ideas, moving toward and ideal kitchen.

I want the space to feel clean and straightforward.  Our kitchen is going to be a workhorse – we like to cook regularly, as well as to do great big kitchen products like canning liters upon liters of pickles, jams and sauces – but it should look rather simple.  I want all of the space to feel well used – cabinets to the ceiling – and able to be used – counters at various heights for various people.  Our tools will have places to be stored, the space will be easy to understand.  There will be lots of spaces to work or pull up a chair and chat.

All photos are of our current kitchen, which has also been a workhorse, but could be improved.

Our kitchen and dining spaces are together, but I would like for them to fell like distinct spaces.  Once we sit down for a meal, it should feel calmer than the business of the kitchen.

On the pantry wall, I would like for there to be a bar zone so Jonathan can have space for his liqueurs (it would be pretty across from the dining table).

Current bar… to be integrated into our pantry wall

Also, there should be a small desk zone (just big enough for one person to sit, mail to get dropped, etc. There should also be space for all of our big french canning jars that hold our staples.


Current pantry, as well as laundry room, and with the dishwasher too! 

And place for our cookbooks!

All that inspiration on just three shelves!

In the main kitchen area, I think I would like for there to be an appliance garage for our standing mixer, slow cooker, instant pot, toaster, Vitamix, breatd machine, and food processor.

Current appliance garage is on top of the fridge…
… and there is some overflow!

It would also be great if the microwave could be tucked away in a cupboard.

It’s currently under our butcher’s block, which I hope will stay tucked against the window next to the pantry wall. 

I generally like our architect’s general design (although I think the fridge and sink are a little too directly across from one another), but we will see what the designer comes back with that might make it even better.  To be continued…


Design help

As we have gone through this transformation experience, I have had lots of people ask if we were getting design help.  Well, much as this is quite the luxurious process of remaking a house as we want it to be, I am basically a frugal person.  So for a period of years, I imagine, we will be improving upon the individual rooms to make them more lovely, homey, and inviting.  And it will never, ever, look as lovely as rooms assembled by those friends that really take lots of time and care for the details.

The one place where we are looking for some design help is our kitchen.  Cue Inspired Kitchen Design (aka IKD), a Florida based company that helps design your IKEA kitchen.

Have you spent any time in IKEA trying to put together your ideal closet or entertainment centre?  I love the Swedish-retailer more than your average bear, and have gone for meatballs and some candles on many occasions (we gained much understanding of the huge candle selection during our time in Stockholm).  I dig that stuff, but putting a whole kitchen together with all of the bits and bobs makes me want to touch terracotta (my own personal nails on chalkboard kind of thing).

So IKD tells us they will spruce up our existing kitchen design, and then spit it out in a IKEA friendly shopping list that we can just hand over to them!  Sounds simple, and I hope it is.  I am about to bite the bullet and pay the $245 US – I will let you know how it works.

Photo of the day – 29 September 2017

I have gotten a bit behind.  But my General Contractor has not… phew!

Today’s photo is of their whiteboard – positioned prominantly on our first floor, it shows what they are working on, a full schedule of the project, what jobs are waiting to be done, etc.  A comprehensive go-to place for a home that is constantly undergoing transformation.

True confession… in addition to stalking the app they use, I stalk their whiteboard sometimes on the weekends.  This past weekend, our eldest even left the crew a little message… “Merci d’avoir nous imviter (sic)!”  

Keeping things clean and orderly

Photo of the day – 28 September 2017

Update on our addition!  It has walls!


The walls you see here will enclose a “vide sanitaire,” basically a heated closet space, so that this corner of the kitchen will be just as well insulated as the rest of the home.  And it will give us a nice big space for basement storage, or a place for the boys to hide!

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Allez-y dans le cave! 

The spray paint on the wall will be the door between the (eventual) basement bedroom and the closet space.  I don’t know about you, but this is exactly the kind of space that 5-year old me loved to play in!

Photo of the day – 27 September 2017

Stop, (Jack) hammer time!  In order to accomodate for the plumbing in the basement, some of the concrete floor needed to get out of the way.  They also installed scaffolding in the stairwell…

The last toilet has been removed! 

…in order to facilitate moving up and down.  The stairs will be built and installed late in the game (I imagine so they don’t need to worry about mussing up the wood.

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Still a long way down… just more difficult to free fall. 

Photo of the day – 26 September 2017

As progress is made, I find myself wanting to post a couple of photos everyday to remark on bits of progress here and there… I will try to restrain myself.

Today’s photo is of the third floor.  In the foreground you see the pully system and the reinforcement for the skylight.  While we are very keen for the skylight to bring more light into our home, we also learned from our home inspector that we won’t need a new roof for a few more years.  In the interim, we are going to make the most of the roof that we have and have the skylight installed at the same time we install a new roof.


The birth of a wall

You also see that the frames for our walls are starting to go up!  This will be the wall between the stairwell and the bathroom, and our bedroom will be right behind the bath.  Honestly, when I see this photo, it seems to me that the space looks tiny, but I remember that we went back and forth nudging the stairwell a few inches this way and that, and we found that this was the perfect configuration.  I am trusting in the professionals around me and hoping they are right…

This was also a reminder for me to watch the work site carefully.  At the top of this wall, we have some interior windows to allow light from the skylight into our interior bathroom.  The foreman posts photos at the end of their day (around 15h30), so seeing no difference if I waited a few hours, I waited until the evening to text him and our general contractor with a reminder about the windows.  He told us he remembered them, and they framed it fully for security reasons.  We are now discussing what type of windows, because we were initially planning to put in a couple kept from the original building, but given their condition, we are now opting for something new.

Photo of the day – 25 September 2017 (bonus!)

Well, I really liked two of the photos from yesterday, so I thought I would share both!

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The ugly face of renovations… 

This is our southern wall in what will be our kitchen.  Our contractor posted the photo yesterday because they added some insulation (Roxul AFB, which is pretty cool stuff) just under the ceiling between us and our neighbours.  We will be grateful for the sound-proofing and will hopefully never use the fire-proofing capacity it provides!

In this photo, you also see on the left the rain-water drain pipe, which descends from our roof, which has been angled to send rain water into it.  This was one of the compromises we made in the building process… keeping this pipe where it was means that the contractor won’t need to remove it, and we won’t need to fully resurface our roof to another drain point.  It will also mean a few inches of lost space, but that was a compromise we were willing to make.  On the right, there is the old chimney, which is no longer useful, but again, a pain to eliminate.

So, while we generally are fighting to make every last inch of space well used, and we did spend some time brainstorming how it could be eliminated, we ultimately thought this compromise was reasonable.

What about you – what compromises have you made in your renovation project?