Last spring we finally started work on our outdoor living space. Apart from using a post hole company to put the posts in, everything else we did ourselves. And let me tell you, when your in your mid fifties, it’s definitely a much slower process than we thought and an extremely wet and muddy spring seemed to slow the process down.
However the end result turned out beautifully. The two tier outdoor living space includes a lower level dining area, from which you can walk up to the pergola covered lounging space that over looks the perennial garden. We are both looking forward to spending many warms days relaxing in our oasis, and enjoying good food and glasses of wine.
One of my favourite finds in the old house was the glass door knobs. Every room had them. The doors were tired old hollow wood with the varnish sticky from years of dirt build up and grease. Nothing could make the doors pretty, but those glass knobs and the hardware would be perfect with a little scrubbing and some black paint for the metal hardware
With the cabinets in place, now came the finishing of the window trim and the tiling of the back splash. As our cabinets on the window wall were dove grey and our walls were Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue HC-155 (a crisp clean navy), we opted for classic white subway tiles for the entire south wall. These would surround the new windows, continue up behind the stove and continue along the sink. The north wall cabinets were tall clean white pantry cupboards which surrounded and encased the fridge.
Michael is a perfectionist and worked tirelessly tiling the kitchen wall. He taught me how to cut the tiles, how to apply the ceramic tile adhesive (we used Flextile Adhesive) and finally how to grout the finished wall. Cutting the tiles and adhering them to the wall was the fun part, however I am not a fan of grouting! I thank him for his patience and constant encouragement. Michael you are a wonderful teacher and your tiling skills are the best!
new untrimmed windows
White tiles/navy walls
Centre detail begins
Coming soon, the final reveal. Before and after pictures with a list of products/supplies, and the fun part of styling and shopping for our new kitchen.
Let’s face it, we all dream of having that beautiful kitchen we’ve seen in the magazines or viewed on one of those fabulous HGTV shows. Our reality was that our budget did not allow us to have a designer kitchen, nor did our tiny house allow us something big. We were limited to using the space we had without knocking down walls, we would combine the kitchen and alcove of the original layout to make more counter space and as our home was fuelled by oil, I couldn’t have the gas stove I so desired. So we headed to IKEA Canada to plan our tiny dream kitchen and choose our appliances at a fraction of the cost of most designers’ fees. It just so happened to be during one of their Kitchen Events, where if you purchase a kitchen, along with three or more appliances, you got back 20% in IKEA gift cards! Those gift cards would come in handy for future bathroom cabinetry and fixtures (future post alert!).
IKEA makes it very easy to plan your kitchen with their online Kitchen Planner. Just make sure all your measurements are accurate-DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING-and include all your doors, windows and outlets in the floor plan. When you’re happy with your design I highly recommend you review the plan with an IKEA kitchen associate. They can recommend tweaks to your layout and often have ingenious suggestions to bring your plan to the next level. Don’t forget to choose your handles and interior fittings, which are to die for! Once you’re happy with the design, your order is placed, you make your payment and then arrange your delivery date. Easy peasy! You can opt to have a planner come to your home, measure and make recommendations as well as use IKEA installers to assemble and build your kitchen for a fee. This is something we planned to do ourselves, saving some money which could be used towards the electrician and plumber we needed for the kitchen necessities. NEVER try to do any electrical or plumbing yourself, always hire a professional. And so the kitchen was delivered as planned (the boxes filled our entire dining/living room space) and my brother Richard and I set about assembling the cabinets and Michael did all the installation. My design called for low cabinets in soft grey along the whole of the window wall with a stove and dishwasher giving us plenty of counter space and the opposite wall was for the fridge which would be surrounded by high pantry cabinets in white.
Stay tuned for part two, featuring the tiled backsplash, colour selections and before and after photos!
The day finally came when I could pick up the keys to my Elliott Street home, November 19th, 2015. My boyfriend Michael (who was also my realtor) and I waited anxiously in the car as the previous owner loaded the last few boxes into his truck and left. Finally we could pull into the driveway and he carried me, excited and laughing, over the threshold. My father Keith and my brother Richard showed up with wine and a cheese platter, paper plates and plastic cups. It was the first little party in our new home. So many plans had been made since my deposit cheque was put down and my offer became firm back in August. My first purchase, even before possession of the home, was a washer and dryer that Michael had found a great deal on at Lowes. While temporarily renting an apartment, I had been taking all my laundry to my father’s home. I could not stand the thought of my undergarments swimming around the washing machines in the apartment building’s communal laundry room after being used by all the other tenants! We had arranged to have the washer/dryer delivered the week after possession date. The apartment was paid for up until December 29, 2015 which would give us one month to get as much work done as possible on the little house. The dumpster was being delivered on the Friday, along with the new hardwood flooring which would be installed the following week. That gave us time to gut the old kitchen, tear the basement down to the bare walls, rip the carpet off the stairs/landing and give the house a deep clean before the flooring was installed.
My dad, Keith
My son, Jacob
By the end of the first demo day, the dumpster was overflowing. We had to request its removal and delivery of a new one. Michael and I worked hard that first weekend, along with family and friends to remove as much as possible from the interior.
Little treasures were found in the cupboards and basement. Copies of old Life magazines, and risqué men journals. Beautiful glass handles were on all the doors, which I kept along with the hinges and hardware. My plan was to clean, refurbish and reuse all of them.
For a whole month, we’d leave the apartment to go to work, leave work to go to the house, work on the renovations and then late at night return to the apartment exhausted. As for the weekends, we were gorilla contractors. Cuts, bruises, splinters, sore muscles and aching bones (we are in our fifties, things aren’t as easy as they were 20 years ago!) were the norm. All I could think of through the blood, sweat and tears was how lovely this little house was going to be. Not just a house, but a home.
I had passed through the older part of town many, many times as a scenic route to admire the older homes and avoid the busier streets. Some of the homes are stately beauties, with long histories of grander times. Others were simple little gems built for families after the second world war ( war time homes ), giving them a place to call their own. In this area of town the homes were built between 1947-1949. It was one of these smaller homes that, lucky for me, was listed for sale in the summer of 2015.
Visiting the open house, I was shocked at how dated and untouched the home was. I later learned that the home only ever had one owner and family, which explained why no upgrades had been completed. One family, who had lived, dreamed and grown under it’s roof. I made a second visit to the open house and all I could see was my future home and all it’s potential.
It was tiny, one and a half storeys with only 2 bedrooms. Originally these homes were three bedrooms, but at some point in it’s history the original owners, maybe after their children had grown and moved away, had knocked down a wall on the main floor, turning the master bedroom into a dining room.
On August 11, 2015 my offer was accepted, my deposit cheque paid and my plans for giving this home new life began.