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10 min read
By: Léa Plourde-Archer
Chronicles of a Home Renovation ProjectChronicles of a Home Renovation Project: It's Finally Over!
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!
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!
Entrance and hallway
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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!
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.
In no particular order, here are the changes we like the most about our home:
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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Last modified 2022-10-11
Léa Plourde-Archer • 29 Dec 2020
The last article about our renovation project was published in early December. We had started making major purchases, especially for the kitchen and flooring. Even though we haven't shared any news since then, this doesn't mean that nothing has happened! In the next few paragraphs, we'll cover the things we were able to do before the holiday break. Renovation project: the work is finally starting! Preparing to move out This month, we mainly worked on sorting, cleaning and tidying up our belongings. Before the stores closed, we were able to donate several items and pieces of clothing to a Renaissance thrift store. As for the old paint cans, pieces of wood and batteries, everything was dropped off at the Ecocentre closest to our place! We have to leave our place around January 5th in order to make room for the contractor and his team. Therefore, we must ensure that our objects (which will remain here during the work) will be easy to move and adequately protected. Everything will be put in boxes and bags so that workers can organize everything according to their needs. We will move to furnished accommodation during the 2 months that the project will last, so it won't be necessary to move a lot of stuff, except our cats and our clothes! As I write these lines, we only have to store the objects we use every day in boxes. This will be done the day before or the morning of our departure. Here are some pictures of our accommodation full of boxes. Forgive the mess, we'll organize everything shortly before we leave! Left: boxes from our IKEA kitchen, right: our items stored in boxes Other purchases we made We have slowed down a lot in terms of purchasing objects and materials. The kitchen we ordered from IKEA has arrived safely (only 2 pieces are missing), the ceramic tiles are waiting in the warehouses of the stores and for the rest, we will wait for the contractor's approval. Indeed, even if we sometimes made the trip to the store to see the models in person (ex: doors, sinks, faucets), we did not make any other purchases, because we don't want to take up too much space before the work begins. In a way, it would be rather counterproductive to fill the home with all the furniture and materials that we will need. Even though there appear to be some delays and supply issues at this time, it is best to wait a bit before placing orders. Our contractor indicated that he was going to give us a shopping list with an order to follow. We donated our storage furniture on Kijiji, so while waiting for the move, this sideboard serves as our pantry! The last meeting with our contractor The work is due to start around the end of the first week of January. As we will be leaving on the 5th, the contractor and his workers will be able to start the first stages of the project on the 6th. We rented an apartment for 2 months. This leaves them more than 8 weeks to complete all the work that is planned. According to the contractor we have chosen (you will meet him in a subsequent article), this is quite possible, even largely sufficient. This makes us feel much better because we absolutely have to come back here at the beginning of March. As we had not spoken much to the contractor since signing the contract (apart from a few emails exchanged), we wanted to see him one last time before the start of the work. This meeting was used to confirm certain changes to the plan, to make decisions regarding the purchase of materials and the choice of work techniques and so on. We can therefore leave our accommodation while being completely reassured, knowing that we are still happy with our choice of contractor. Of course, we hope we don't have too many unpleasant surprises along the way, but all of this is impossible to predict! Custom-made furniture The basic plan I sent to my father-in-law for our pantry (he only speaks French) One of the aspects that we discussed with the contractor is the subject of custom furniture. We have some furniture that cannot be purchased from IKEA or another furniture supplier. These are the structure behind the toilet, the pantry and the headboard behind our bed. Right off the bat, the contractor told us that maybe we should find another solution for the pantry because we would need to hire a cabinetmaker for this type of furniture. At the moment, cabinetmakers are very busy and there would probably be long delays in the manufacture of this structure. Instead, he advised us to buy a prefabricated piece of furniture. After some research, we determined that the furniture available on the market does not meet our needs. We decided to contact my mother's partner, who makes furniture as a hobby. He had already designed a bookshelf for us a few years ago, so we know he is quite capable of creating a piece of furniture to our liking. It's an ideal solution that will appeal to everyone! Left: notes for the contractor, Right: our cupboards are empty! Will our project be affected by the new lockdown measures? Normally, unless there are new exceptional measures, our project should not suffer any delays due to the current situation. Construction and renovation contractors are among those who were able to get back to work quickly, even during the first lockdown back in March. Of course, there will be impacts, including the fact that we will not be able to come and inspect the work in the presence of workers. The contractor asked us to visit only in the evening after everyone had left. Otherwise, we may experience some complications when it comes to hardware store and internet purchases. We will have to be flexible and open-minded! In the next column, we will discuss the start of work and the next purchases to be made.
Léa Plourde-Archer • 30 Nov 2020
After meeting with the interior designer, creating plans for the project and choosing our contractor, it's time to start buying materials and furniture! If all goes as planned, the work should start during the first week of January. In order for the project to proceed in the best conditions, we must ensure that the materials arrive on time! Therefore, we've started purchasing furniture and materials, with the priority being the kitchen! The entire apartment will be reworked, but the heart of the renovations will take place in the kitchen and the bathroom. Therefore, we have decided to concentrate our first purchases to receive the materials that will be used in these rooms on time. In this article, we will discuss the research done on the internet, store visits and the first orders we have placed. Purchases to make before starting a renovation project Creating my shopping list The contractor and his team will be working in each room of our condo. This means that this is a large-scale renovation project! There will be a lot of material and furniture purchases to be made in the coming weeks. As I was thinking about the number of transactions that we would have to carry out, I saw a mountain appear on the horizon that seemed insurmountable to me, because the closer we got to it, the bigger it seemed! Refusing to give up, I created a shopping list separated into two sections, namely: Purchases to be made before renovations Purchases that can be made once the work has started I also wrote down where I think we are going to buy the product, so that we can be efficient when going to the store or making transactions on the internet. Here's a look at the list in its current state: In short, the most important purchases to make at the moment are: Kitchen cabinets Flooring materials for the kitchen, toilet and bathroom Ceramic for the kitchen backsplash Ceramic for the walls around the bath Sinks and faucets The kitchen counter For the rest, if there is ever a supply problem at a store, we will be able to find solutions. For example, if they don't have the type of door model we are looking for, we can always keep the current doors until the ones we like are available. Buying our kitchen cabinets: the funny trip to IKEA An IKEA kitchen with the cabinets we have chosen Determined to buy the furniture and materials for our new kitchen, we headed to IKEA, ready to face the Saturday morning crowds for a good cause. I had previously used the kitchen planning software available on the IKEA website but lacked confidence in my calculation skills. Preferring to avoid costly mistakes, I thought that an advisor working for the big Swedish brand would be able to help us. Unfortunately, the experience did not live up to our expectations. It was the first time that we went to consult an employee assigned to the kitchen section in the Montreal branch of this famous store. Even though we had planned to arrive before opening time, the section was already packed with customers from the first minutes. Therefore, we waited patiently for a station to become available. As we settled down at our computer, we quickly understood that the support would be less comprehensive than we would have liked. In fact, I thought the employee was going to create the plan for us, based on our plan that the designer had provided. Instead, I was to design the plan with the same software I had already tested, and the person was going to answer our questions. Except that I didn't know where to start, or what questions to ask! We were left to our own devices. Very quickly, a communication problem arose between ourselves and the designated employee. This was quite unpleasant and we were tense because the environment was claustrophobic, especially due to the panels installed for hygienic protection. However, the station next to ours was busy, so the other customers were standing within three feet of us. All this to say that everyone's mood quickly deteriorated, thus affecting our communication skills. Some of the kitchen cabinet parts from IKEA Since our kitchen is quite narrow, standard type cabinets did not work in our layout. Without knowing that the contractor could cut the cabinets to fit them into the room, we were a little lost. The lady didn't really answer our questions, so we decided to get in touch with our designer. She reassured us about the layout possibilities, but we quickly realized that we could not buy our kitchen during the visit to IKEA. We decide to free up the station so that other impatient customers could settle in. Here's hoping things worked out for them! The lesson: we should have made an appointment with a kitchen designer from IKEA. You have to pay to have access to this service, but the amount is refunded if you buy the kitchen. Had we been aware of the fact, we would certainly have opted for this type of support. But hey, live and learn! Ultimately, we finished the plan at home, in the cozy and quiet comfort of our living room. Unfortunately, when placing the order, we found out that some items were not available. We will have to follow up very closely to be sure that nothing is missing. The first delivery has arrived and the second is expected to be here around December 12. Fingers crossed that everything arrives on time! Our visit to the ceramic stores The tiles that we had chosen with the designer A few days ago, we went to the store to order the ceramic tiles we will need for the project. We had to buy (before extras for loss): 181.5 square feet of tiles for the floors of the kitchen, the toilet and the entrance (same model) 48 square feet of tiles for the bathroom floor 71.2 square feet of tile for the kitchen backsplash 73.3 square feet of tile for bathroom walls (around tub and shower) The list I had in hand: The designer had provided the measurements for each space, and the employees of the stores where we made our purchases were able to guide us with regards to extra amounts we had to buy, purchasing the right grout and other useful products, including the sealant for grout. Regarding the extra tiles, you should be aware that it is necessary to calculate about 10 to 15% more than the surface area you are planning to cover. If you opt for tiles with more complex shapes, such as hexagons, it is best to add 15% of square footage to the number of tiles you will buy. We had already chosen some of the tiles with the designer, so we could target the stores we were going to visit. However, in order to reduce travel, I decided to change the ceramic flooring for the bathroom. By doing this, we were able to buy everything in 2 stores instead of having to go to 3 places. Here are the tiles we chose: Left to right: our choice for the backsplash, our choice for the kitchen floor, our bathroom floor and the bathroom backsplash The buying process was much easier than at IKEA. We had to compromise on the colour of the kitchen floor because the one we wanted originally had to be ordered and its arrival was not guaranteed. However, for the rest, the materials were either available or would arrive within a reasonable timeframe. This is very reassuring! The first purchases of household appliances We will have to purchase several new appliances in the coming months. Here is the list of appliances that we have to buy: Cooktop Small countertop oven Freezer Hood Robot vacuum Wanting to take advantage of the sales that happen at the end of November, we bought the small oven and the freezer. These devices will be delivered in a few weeks. This is another good thing we can check off our shopping list! Supply problems in home decor and renovation stores: will this be an obstacle? Tile samples in a flooring store For the past few months, I have been researching our choices of furniture and materials and I have noticed that most stores and supermarkets are having difficulty with supplies. You will surely have noticed it if you have recently wanted to buy appliances, furniture and building materials: stocks are low, and prices can be high. All of this is due in part to the current situation. People are renovating more and have the sudden urge to transform their decor. Instead of spending to go on vacation, many people's decor/renovation budgets have swelled. This may turn into complications that could make you laugh or cry, depending on the urgency of the situation. Having already gotten used to the idea that some materials were going to be unavailable, I wanted to focus on my purchasing strategy in order to have at least the most important elements so that the contractor could work without too many interruptions. That's why we bought the kitchen first. We've also decided to be flexible. Indeed, if the flooring material we have chosen is out of stock for an indefinite period, we will look at the options that are available more quickly. Some compromises might have to be made, but it's better than creating long delays for the work, knowing that we have to come back to live here at the beginning of March. Therefore, we can say that it is indeed an obstacle, but that we have decided not to be discouraged by this issue! We are going to put all the chances on our side to be able to overcome this obstacle. The next things to do on the list In the coming weeks, I would like to shop for certain items, including sinks and faucets, and I'd also like us to discuss the subject of custom furniture with our contractor. This will give you a little preview of the content of the next columns in this series! Cover photo: RenoQuotes.com Pinterest Account
Léa Plourde-Archer • 23 Feb 2021
At the time of writing, there are only two weeks left before we can return to live in our home. Being 32 weeks pregnant, I can't wait to get back to my belongings and my comfortable home. The countdown has started and our contractor Patrick and his team are completing the final stages of the project so that the home is at the very least inhabitable for this date. Indeed, it is quite possible that some finishing steps will not be completed at the time of our return. That's not a problem, as long as we can go back and live there and the place is going to be safe to accommodate a new baby in a few weeks. Have you missed the previous columns? Click here to find them! From left to right: the bathroom floor, the toilet, the walls, bathtub and shower in the bathroom The final steps of the renovation project: we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel The contractor has started installing the kitchen! Last week, we were delighted to discover an almost complete kitchen. If there is anything that gives the impression that the work is progressing, it is seeing that the kitchen cabinets have been installed! This makes us feel like we can finally see the beginning of the results of the work. We are very happy we chose this kitchen, even though IKEA has given us a hard time and continues to cause problems. Indeed, there is a lower cabinet missing that is never in stock, and we had some problems with the order. Indeed, we received some cabinets which were indicated as back/order, while others did not arrive. I was afraid that a lot of items are missing, but ultimately only a few items are not there and we will be ordering them in a few days so that the contractor can add them at the end. As for the missing 12-inch cabinet, we're probably going to have to find another solution as it looks like this one isn't a priority for stock at IKEA! We are now waiting for the installation of the counter and the cabinet that will serve as a pantry. The pantry cabinet was built by my step-father, so we'll be able to adjust the installation date depending on when we're ready. Finally, the contractor will have to wait for the countertop to be installed in order to put up the backsplash, which could happen after we come home. No problem, we'll adjust! The kitchen cabinets have been installed! The toilet and the bathroom are nearly done The two most advanced rooms are the toilet and the bathroom. In the bathroom, what is left is painting and finishing the walls, and installing the door that will be in front of the washer/dryer. As for the toilet, they have to paint the walls, install a little bit of wallpaper on one of the surfaces and a custom shelf above the toilet. From left to right: the transom window over one of the doors, the future office/walk-in, the mouldings in the bedroom What work remains to be done? In the coming weeks, here is the list of work to be completed: Finishing and repairing floors; Preparing and painting all walls (all white except one wall and two small sections in the bedroom); Installing quarter rounds on mouldings; Completing the installation of the kitchen; Installing the backsplash; Completing the installation of the electrical system. This list may seem rather long considering that there are only ten days of work left before our return, but Patrick and his team are very efficient! Also, if there are a few tasks left to complete after the 5th, as mentioned before, it's not the end of the world. I will be present on-site because I will have started my maternity leave, but the home is spacious enough so that we won't be stepping on each other's feet. The contractor and his team have started painting and installing mouldings Preparing the steps following our return home The other night, I was thinking about everything we are going to have to do when we get back and a feeling of panic rose within me. Being used to living with anxiety, I didn't want to let these emotions take over, so I used one of my favourite stress management tools in a situation where I have a lot to manage: Google Sheets documents. Indeed, these documents which have a structure similar to those of an Excel file, but without the complicated elements, are very easy to use when you want to establish lists and priorities. This allows me to let go of things and not get caught up in the expectations I have for the results of the work and above all, for our level of preparation before the baby arrives. Here is an overview of one of my Google Sheets documents that I am using to prepare for our return home and the things to do in the coming weeks (in french only): What are my ideas for home decor? I haven't talked about my decorating ideas much since the start of this column, except to share with you some examples of the materials we've chosen. Before the big unveiling of the results of the work, and the article where I will present our final decor in a few months, I wanted to share with you some images I have pinned and furniture we've bought in recent months. This will give you a sneak peek of my tastes and what I plan to do in the rooms. A duvet cover that features a Japanese street scene and a black accent wall in the master bedroom In the bedroom, I opted for a colour palette that focuses on black, white, dark wood and a few touches of gold. These are colours that can be found in this duvet cover purchased on the Society 6 website. We're also going to have a black accent wall behind the bed, with a big black and white poster. The result will not quite look like the example presented above but will be in the same spirit. In front of this wall, there will be recessed shelves which will also be black, creating a callback to the accent wall. This golden ceiling lamp from IKEA In most rooms of the house, we are going to have recessed lights in the ceilings. However, in the living room and in the office/walk-in, there will be ceiling lights. Here is the ceiling light we have chosen for the moment and which will be used in both rooms. I haven't ordered it yet, so this one might change until the last moment, but it's the one I have in my basket, waiting to place the next order from IKEA. The cat wall Our home is designed like the most classic of Montreal apartments: lengthwise. This creates long corridors which represent a waste of space. However, the new layout will allow us to optimize the use of the hallways, namely with the installation of large storage cabinets and the creation of a cat wall. This cat wall will be located between the toilet and the kitchen, in a small dark and narrow section of the home. We have 3 cats, so visiting cat cafes around the world provided us with some simple layout ideas that felines will love. However, instead of opting for expensive furniture and accessories, we wanted to save money while creating an original installation, like what we see here in the photo. These are mostly shelves bought from IKEA, with little bins turned into beds and toys that can be found in any good pet store. I also completed the look with sisal rugs that we will install on the walls. These rugs come from Amazon. Wallpaper in the toilet I briefly mentioned that we were going to have a wall covered with wallpaper in the toilet. Indeed, we wanted to create a particularly colourful decor in the small toilet, given that this room has no window. I bought some super colourful concert posters and patterned wallpaper inspired by Matisse's paintings. This wallpaper will be installed on a single wall, so as not to create an overwhelming effect. It will above all be used to create a beautiful visual dynamism in a room that might lack it. This wallpaper was designed by Kathryn Zaremba who sells her products through her Etsy store. The yellow bathmat in the bathroom The bathroom colour scheme will focus on white (the walls and wall tiles), black (the hex tile floor) and yellow. At the moment, we only have one decorative element in yellow, which is the bath mat (bought from Simons), but I fully intend to add more, such as plant pots or pictures to install on the walls. This helps add a friendlier, less serious look to this room's colour scheme. Blackout curtains for the little one's bedroom I had already bought curtains for the baby's room, but when I received them, I quickly realized that I was wrong in the measurements! I had bought curtains in the style of those installed in Japanese doors. These are not very effective at cutting the light. I had to buy another pair and I found what I was looking for on the Society 6 website (again). Here are curtains with patterns inspired by designs by New York artist Keith Haring. They are vibrant and childish, without resembling the classic style of a nursery that doesn't really fit with my taste. The rest of the room will also be focused on tones of black and white, with nice patterns like this Marimekko blanket, as well as colourful posters featuring characters from Studios Ghibli films (Ponyo, Totoro, Kiki and so on). The next article In the next column, I plan to tell you about returning to our home and want to ask our contractor a few questions to get his impression of how the work went. This, of course, hoping that the little one will not have decided to show up in advance!
Léa Plourde-Archer • 02 Feb 2021
In the previous column, I talked about the first weeks of the project since the contractor has started working on our place. Things have quickly transformed in the home, from demolition to renovating plumbing and electricity, to building a new and larger bathroom. Since then, the contractor and his team have reassembled the destroyed walls and started other stages of the work, such as installing the heated floor and preparing the sub-floor surfaces. We stay in constant communication with our contractor. This is one of the elements that we are going to address in this column, namely the relationship we have with him. Have you missed the previous columns? Click here to find them! Renovation project: we're halfway through the work! From left to right: the bathroom, the many boxes in the hallway, the toilet floor From left to right: the bathroom, the many boxes in the hallway, the toilet floor After the demolition, the walls go back up! To create the new layout as seen in the plan, they had to reposition some of the walls and create openings in other places. For example, a space that served as a wardrobe and storage for the water heater was removed to be added to the bathroom. Two other openings have been created between the kitchen and the future living room, as well as in the bedroom and the office/walk-in. The workers also opened the baseboards at the bottom of the walls so that the electricians could redo the wiring and connections. That is why the first weeks of work were devoted to demolition and opening the walls. Now that the openings have been created and the electricians have been able to carry out a large portion of their work, the contractor and his team have been able to close most of the walls and move on to installing the drywall sheets and a few layers of insulation, when necessary (for example, between the nursery and the bathroom). We can already see that in some rooms, they have started to apply drywall compound and added layers of plaster for the finishing touches. Our relationship with the contractor In a previous column, I talked about the process that led us to choose our contractor (click here to read about it). I can confirm that we are still very satisfied with our decision. Communications are going well with Patrick, the owner of Rénovation PJL and we find he is being very patient with us! Later in this column, I'll tell you why, and you'll probably find him quite patient too. Every day, we communicate either by phone, text message or via his platform on monday.com. It is very convenient and easy to get in touch with him at all times. In addition, it helps us a lot when the time comes to buy certain materials and when we do not have a good grasp of their characteristics, including the mouldings and the heaters. Our most recent visits to the worksite (from left to right): the bedroom, the future walk-in, the transoms above the windows Decisions to be taken quickly We still had to make a few decisions very quickly, because the workers were going to have to work on these elements during the following days or because the materials had to be purchased the next day or in the short term. This time, it was mainly a question of choosing whether we were going to install transoms over the doors of the bedroom and the office (it was already planned to have one above the door of the child's bedroom). Then, we had to choose the mouldings. We had explored different possibilities with the interior designer, but when it came time to purchase the materials, we noticed that we would have to find an option that was a little bit outside the usual standards. Indeed, to cover the holes behind the old mouldings, we had to find a model that was more than 6 inches tall. I probably scoured every page of the websites of all the major hardware stores in the area to find models that we liked. Finally, the contractor will be the one manufacturing custom mouldings from wooden slats that he will cut. The walls of the bathroom have been mounted - what's left to do is the finishing and installing the tiles We change our decision about installing heat pumps Initially, we wanted to install a heat pump system in our home. Who isn't dreaming of a home where the temperature is perfect year-round? We have lived in this apartment, which was built in 1926, for almost 10 years. In winter, the temperature is freezing and in summer, the heat quickly becomes unbearable. Before the renovations, it was poorly insulated and the heating system was no longer functional. We thought about installing a heat pump to control the temperature throughout the apartment. Initially, the budget for this service was approximately $ 4000. However, due to the layout of the home, the fresh air was not going to get to all the rooms, so we got another offer, this time for $ 10,000. This was way over our budget, so we had to make the decision to drop the heat pump entirely. Indeed, it is not worth paying such a large amount if the most important rooms that need to be cooled (the bedrooms) are not going to receive fresh air. We have therefore chosen to opt for air conditioners that we will install directly in the windows in these rooms. For heating, the new electric baseboards will surely suit our needs! The things we ordered recently In the last few weeks, we have chosen the mouldings around the doors and windows, a few decorative elements and the appliances. We had to slow down the pace of purchases because there is no more space available in the apartment! If you take a good look at the other side of the opening, you can see that the backroom is filled to the brim! Our place is too full of stuff - what we should have done Before leaving our place, we gave away and sold a lot of objects and we put our belongings in boxes. Knowing that the majority of the work was going to take place in the kitchen and the bathroom, we emptied these rooms and most of the boxes ended up in 3 rooms, i.e. the front room, the back room and the middle one. I thought this was going to work well so as not to clutter up the rooms too much, but I hadn't taken into account the fact that we were going to have to buy a lot of furniture and materials for the rest of the project! Very quickly, the apartment was filled to capacity with boxes, materials and other objects of all kinds. The contractor and his workers are very patient, as they have had to move everything from one place to another several time in order to be able to work. Having known, I might have rented a storage room to accommodate certain deliveries, especially for items that we will not need until the end of the work. In fact, we had to send in some orders in advance to make sure we received them on time, due to the shortage of certain materials. This is mostly a problem with IKEA, where some furniture pieces are unavailable for months, then available for a few days before disappearing again. In short, this is another lesson to be learned for a future renovation project!
Léa Plourde-Archer • 18 Jan 2021
Here we go! On Wednesday, January 6th the great transformation project was finally able to begin. We had moved to our temporary accommodation the day before, although we were a little bit nervous about the announcements made by the government the following day. There were rumours that the construction industry might have to be put on hiatus for a few weeks. I must admit that I was a little nervous to learn that our project was possibly going to be delayed because I am pregnant and the baby's arrival is scheduled for the month of April. If the project goes as planned, we would have one month to come back to our home and put everything in place to be ready to welcome the baby. That doesn't leave much flexibility for a delay in the work. Of course, we would have fully understood the rationale for the containment measures if the government had decided to go ahead with a hiatus in the industry, but I have to be honest in saying that it would have caused some anxiety. In the end, the authorities gave the contractors the task of determining which were the essential projects they needed to work on. As ours was already well underway (at least as far as planning was concerned), the issue didn't even arise! Haven't read the previous columns? Click here to check them out! Our first (daytime) visit to the site. The demolition was well underway! We see here (from left to right): the future living room, the bathroom and the toilet, the kitchen Renovating our apartment: the work finally starts! The first steps of the demolition process From day one, the contractor started the demolition. His team worked so quickly that that same evening, my partner went there to pick up a few items we were missing for the temporary accommodation and found that the kitchen and bathroom were completely gone. The project involves redoing the entire kitchen, changing the size of the bathroom (by recovering two closets that were located between the kitchen and the bathroom), then building a small toilet separate from the rest. Everything had to be brought back to the base of the walls in this section so that we could start over. Next, they created two openings, one between the kitchen wall and the future living room and the other between the master bedroom and the future workshop/walk-in closet. These openings were rather simple to make, as they look like a window and a door. Therefore, no additional support to the structure was required. More photos from the first visit to the worksite. From left to right: our boxes stacked in the living room, a view towards the kitchen and the bathroom, the entrance hall Time to make choices Now that the work is underway, we often have to make choices quickly. Our contractor (Rénovation PJL) gets in touch with us almost every day of the week to ask us questions. He is following the plan, but sometimes changes have to be made when faced with reality. For example, selecting the types of fans for the bathroom, the size of the openings between the kitchen and the living room and between the bedroom and the walk / in office, as well as the addition of insulation in the walls that separate the bathroom from the children's room. Second visit to the worksite. From left to right: the entrance hall, the opening between the office and the bedroom, the electrical work in the kitchen and the bathroom Monitoring the work Due to the current situation, we cannot be present on-site at the same time as the workers. However, we can follow the progress of the work by accessing the contractor's schedule as he shares his work organization tool with us (monday.com). We can leave him notes outside of his on-site hours, and it becomes easy for us to see what has been done and what is scheduled for the next few days. We visit the site approximately twice a week, once in the evening, in the middle of the week and another time during the weekend. This allows us to see in person the changes that are underway and to make some decisions that are more difficult to determine without seeing things in person. The purchases we made In recent weeks, we have been shopping non-stop while respecting the progress of the work. For example, when the contractor tells us that the plumber is coming soon, we must quickly buy the furniture and accessories that he will need. Here are some recent purchases: Bathroom: bath, sink and vanity, medicine cabinet, shower and bath faucet(see "A few mistakes not to repeat") Toilet: toilet with bidet, wallpaper Kitchen: kitchen sink, kitchen faucet, hood, hob, door handles Living room: covers for armchairs Whole house: furniture and accessories from IKEA, doors (see "A few mistakes not to repeat") We will soon have to buy the baseboards, the paint and ideally, the kitchen cabinets that are missing (fingers crossed, IKEA). Second visit on-site. From left to right: electrical installations in the walls, the space that will become the nursery, the opening between the kitchen and the living room (which will be extended to the ceiling) A few mistakes not to repeat Even if so far, things are going pretty well, we still have to share some avoidable mistakes that we have made. In all cases, these are purchases that we made due to wanting to go too fast or because of a certain lack of information. Our first mistake was actually a duplicate purchase from IKEA. Fortunately, we should be able to return the extra item in a few months as we have 1 year to do so. The doors We wanted to do things right by purchasing the doors for the bedroom, office, toilet and bathroom. Unfortunately, we forgot to buy the door with the frame! Due to a little misunderstanding, I thought the current structure was going to stay, but this is not the case. Our contractor was very understanding and cancelled the order himself. We will be ordering again soon, this time with the correct models! The shower faucet The mistake that led to the most consequences is the fact that we bought a shower faucet that did not come equipped with the valve! We had bought this faucet on Amazon because it needed to arrive within a few days (otherwise we would have bought it elsewhere). The faucet had been delivered directly to the job site and when the contractor and plumber opened the packaging, they discovered that the valve was not there! Without the valve, the installation was impossible, so the contractor had to send the plumber home. I went to see the product sheet on Amazon and indeed it was written that the valve had to be purchased separately. Of course, it was written in the fourth image of the product sheet and at the end of the paragraphs, so my busy and inattentive brain could easily miss this info. We were able to find another faucet model at a hardware store, and we will need to return the first faucet to Amazon. These are small lessons to be learned over the course of the work. It's nothing too dramatic, but if you can avoid this type of problem, great!