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Chronicles of a Home Renovation Project: it's Finally Over!

Last modified: 2022-06-16 | Approximate reading time 9 mins

Léa Plourde-Archer

I'm back! Almost a year later, I'm here with the final column in this series about our major renovation project. So, why did it take me over a year to complete this cycle of articles you ask? Well, it's because I just came back from maternity leave.

In reality, the renovations have been done since the fall and apart from a few small tasks, we have put away the tools with the idea that we won't see them again for a few years! Nope, this experience was not easy.

That being said, the results are beyond our wildest expectations and we enjoyed working with our contractor, as well as the designer. Of course, there are some things we would have done differently in hindsight.

In this article, I will share the results of our projects, a few anecdotes and some tips.

If you haven't already, check out the previous chronicles to see the whole process from start to finish!

Transforming our home: the results of the makeover

We'd been living here for more than 10 years, so the transformation has been quite shocking! For ten years, we were accustomed to a layout that resembled a typical Montreal apartment. It was very old and rather badly maintained, for lack of means. We were happy here, but ready to take it to the next step in terms of comfort.

Now the layout is both practical and unique, so I still find myself feeling little shivers of happiness when I get home at the end of the day. How lucky we are to live here!

Let's look at the changes room-by-room!

Entrance and hallway

Entrance after the renovations_Chronicles of a home renovation project finally over_RenoQuotes

Before, the front door was followed by a second glass door, creating a small vestibule. In the new layout, there is no longer a second door and the wall section has been removed. It's open and bright, which we emphasized with a colour scheme focused on white, gray and black. We also have more space to integrate storage.

Workshop/walk-in/chronicles of a renovation project finally over_RenoQuotes

The new walk-in which also serves as a workshop and storage room (note that the plaster above the window still needs to be repaired)

The office/walk-in

Previously, this room was used as storage and office space, but its layout was so unpleasant that we preferred to work in the living room. This area is now connected to the bedroom through an opening. We can store our clothes on one side, and I set up my desk with my art supplies against the other wall. Now that I have a pleasant and inspiring workspace, I've never been so productive when it comes to creating art!

We opted for PAX wardrobes from IKEA and the main advantage of these is that when we need to change their layout, it's easy to order an additional shelf or change an accessory.

During the process of creating plans, there was talk of removing the door leading to the hallway to gain a section of wall. However, as we do not plan to live here long term, we didn't want to affect the market value of the home, so the door has remained in place. This would eventually allow for a third closed bedroom to be created if needed.

Master bedroom after the renovations_Chronicles of a renovation project: it's finally over!_RenoQuotes

The master bedroom with a bonus cat!

The master bedroom

Our bedroom was small but pleasant. It remained in the same place, but the configuration has changed a lot. The bed is oriented differently and is placed in front of a wooden structure serving as a headboard with integrated electrical outlets. This is one of our favourite things coming out of the renovation project! On this subject, you will find a list of other favourites of ours later in this article.

The bedroom was already exposed to a lot of natural light, but it is even brighter now because of the opening to the other room and the transom window above the door.

Colourful child's room after renovations

The kid's bedroom

This room used to be the living room and was not closed off to the rest of the home. It has now been transformed into the baby's bedroom. The contractor and his team built a wall and installed French doors. I wanted glass doors to let outside light into the hallway while blocking out enough noise that the baby's sleep wouldn't be affected.

This room is large enough and well-appointed to accommodate a bedroom and provide a sizeable play area. We have also recovered the space that was used as a closet in the master bedroom and which is now part of this bedroom. This is where we have installed the changing table/chest of drawers and shelves to display the most beautiful books from our little one's collection.

The old glass cabinet that was built into the wall now serves as a closet to store some clothes, diapers and toys.

Renovated washroom_Chronicles of a renovation project: it's finally over!_Renovation Quote

The washroom

The new bathroom has nothing to do with the old one! First, the space was split into two sections: the washroom and the bathroom/laundry room. We removed the old kitchen pantry and storage area to add square footage to these two new rooms. 

In the washroom, there is a mini sink, a mirror, a toilet and a small decorative shelf. As mentioned in the previous article in this series, we installed wallpaper on some of the walls to add some colour to this windowless room.

New bathroom and laundry room after the renovations_Chronicles of a renovation project: it's finally over!_Renovation Quote

The bathroom

Our old bathroom also served as a laundry room, but the layout wasn't nearly as efficient. I had shared in this article about our European-style mini washer that had done its time. Now, with a baby and 3 cats, we needed a stacked washer/dryer combo. These are installed near the bath, in a space just separate enough for all the actions we carry out in this room to be done without clutter.

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Kitchen after renovations_Chronicles of a renovation project: it's finally over!_Renovation Quote

The kitchen

The kitchen has undergone one of the most spectacular transformations. It has nothing to do with the old one anymore. From the cabinets to the layout, including the counters and the backsplash, everything is clean and new!

After years of suffering from the problems associated with having an old-fashioned kitchen that is difficult to maintain and poorly equipped, we truly enjoy having a beautiful new kitchen.

The layout of the room is particularly efficient, especially considering the size of the space. We also had to install an area to eat there, because we sacrificed the dining room to make it the living room. The three of us can easily have meals at the counter, and when we have guests we pull out a large folding table in the living room. It is the perfect compromise to meet our needs!

living room after the renovations_Chronicles of a renovation project: it's finally over!_RenoQuotes

The living room

When we bought the condo, this room was closed and we had removed the wall so that it was open to the rest of the home. However, we barely ever spent time in this area. As with the first room, we avoided going there, since we preferred to center our activities around the kitchen and the living room.

There were plenty of possibilities to be exploited in this space with windows on two sides. When Valérie (the designer) suggested turning this into a living room, I was reluctant at first, because I wanted to install the master bedroom there. However, we are really happy to have opted for his suggestion.

With the opening between the living room and the kitchen, it is the best of both worlds. You can cook while watching TV, wash the dishes while checking on the little one playing and above all, take advantage of the generous light that enters the two rooms.

Our favourite transformations after the renovations

In no particular order, here are the changes we like the most about our home:

  • The opening between the walk-in closet and the bedroom;
  • The electrical outlets integrated into the headboard;
  • The kitchen backsplash;
  • The bathroom floor;
  • The stacked washer/dryer;
  • The transom windows above the doors;
  • PAX cabinets in the hallway and the walk-in;
  • The counter/bar;
  • The opening between the kitchen and the living room;
  • The flush buttons built into the wall and the bidet in the washroom;
  • Our contractor;
  • Our interior designer.

Large-scale renovation project: mistakes not to repeat

During a major renovation project, mistakes and missteps are almost inevitable. As long as these don't have big consequences, that's okay, but it can serve as a lesson for next time!

Here are a few things we learned from our experience and wanted to share to help you avoid these sources of stress!

1) Not having stored our goods elsewhere

If we had to start over, we would have rented space in a warehouse to store our stuff as the project was happening. Since we left everything here, the boxes cluttered up the rooms and interfered with the contractor's work. Also, when we returned, they were full of dust caused by the renovations. Almost one year later, I'm still finding dust in our things.

2) Having started the project when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy

Launching a renovation project and moving are among the biggest sources of stress for a human. Therefore, doing this when you are pregnant and the delivery is scheduled for a month after the end of the project is NOT recommended. Our financial situation forced us to start the work in January at the earliest, so it would have been complicated to do otherwise, but let's just say that I will never repeat this experience.

Since life is full of surprises, in the same month, we experienced 1 move, preparing for the arrival of the baby, 2 deaths in our close family, in addition to delivering a baby. If we had been able to live in a home that was ready and comfortable, the whole process would have been much more relaxing.

3) Not having dimmers installed in every room

Thanks to the plans created by the designer, we now have nice lighting throughout the house. However, in some rooms, the switches are not equipped with dimmers, so it's all or nothing! Sometimes it makes the lighting a little too strong, especially in the living room where we would sometimes prefer more subdued lighting at times.

Of course, we can still install dimmers, but I wish it had been done by the contractor. It's a small detail, but I often think about it!

4) Having the wallpaper installed by an expert

In the small washroom, we wanted to install wallpaper on two wall sections to add a little colour. However, our contractor had no experience with wallpaper, so he advised us to find a handyman for this job. We got in touch with a person, but he postponed our appointment several times. I got fed up, so I decided to put it up myself.

The result is acceptable, but of course, it is not as perfect as if an expert had done it. I now find that I could have been more patient. Next time I will hire someone for this type of job.

5) Better organizing my shopping calendar

Due to the pandemic and the lack of space in our apartment, it was a bit complicated to manage the purchases of materials and furniture. Looking back, I know I could have organized some of my purchases better. For example, we waited too long at the last minute to buy our kitchen counter, which meant that we didn't have time to shop around for it.

Otherwise, I could have waited longer to buy some furniture and accessories, because I ended up not using them. I'm keeping them for a future home, so they're stored in one of the large cupboards in the hallway.

On this note, the series of renovation chronicles are now over! The whole process took more or less one year, which is a long time, but I know it will be worth it. Sometimes, we still pinch ourselves thinking about how lucky we are to live in this place that suits our tastes and needs so well.

This space is colourful, bright, original and very "us". We are going to live here for at least another year, as we start looking for a house to have access to a yard and more space to expand the family. All in all, it was a very rewarding experience and we're glad we went through with it!

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