Stairwell slats

IMG_7810_2It’s all tying together. This week Billy finished the wood slats measurements, drilled holes to dowel in the slats and cut angled rectangles into the staircase to safely house the slats. It took two days to organzie, but it looks amazing and is super safe. It ties in the midcentury modern feel but is also fresh and modern. Have I mentioned Amber can design like a genius and Billy can do anything? I’m glad glad they are on our team.

The stairwell slats are below and are looking mighty fine. They mirror the slats in the living room and complement the floor. They also form a little boundary between the stairs and the dining room but  are open enough that the eye can travel trough and flow from room to room. I quite like it. Now to pick a paint colour for the walls… 


Bathroom fixtures

We are having a bit of fun in the bathroom this week. We added the fixtures to the walls and started on the plumbing. The shower controls are on the side wall not under the shower head. This started because the pipes didn’t allow the control to be on the narrow shower head wall. However this was a happy set back as now with the open glass door, we can turn on the shower and not get wet. This is particularly good for when the girls do their swimming lessons and we can help them get in and out without getting wet ourselves.  Win Win!

Next was getting the vanity ready. Amber sourced and found this great Mid century modern vanity at Design House. She used the same quartz as the kitchen for the waterfall effect and Ryan built out the cabinet to given enough room for plumbing and the sink. Overall a great effect.

Now on to the fun stuff. The light fixture and the mirror.

Lighting Update

This weekend we finalized our lighting fixtures for the bedrooms and the stairwell. I’m so excited! One step closer to seeing how things are actually going to look in the new house.

Amber and I went to Robinson Lighting to get some ideas of what was out there. I’m glad that we went in knowing what style of lighting we want to have in our house. It can truly be overwhelming. So many chandeliers, so much sparkle and baubles and glitz. We are keeping with the midcentury feel, so staying away for almost all of the above, but we got a little hooked for glitz in the girls’ room 🙂

For the stairwell, I wanted something with great geometric style but still practical to light the stairs safely. At the store, there were two beautiful wooden carved chandelier pendant lights, but they really didn’t give off enough light. In the end we went with a grouping of three pendant lights that were very different but complementary in shape to give the retro feel but still had great light. Amber is also introducing me to a cool new lightbulb that is bright but has silver on the bottom, so when people are walking up the stairs, they don’t immediately miss the fixture and just see the light bulb. Very cool ideas that woman has!

Here is the stairwell light fixture grouping:

We wanted something a little more simple for our bedroom. We will have reading lamps on the walls, but wanted something for the overhead light to find our way to the back wall without stubbing our toes in the dark. Since I couldn’t get the wood chandelier for the stairwell, I thought this walnut circular drum light would work with our walnut bedroom set really well. Here is the light I picked for our bedroom:

This one I never would have picked myself, but it is perfect for the underwater theme the girls want for their shared room. It looks like bubbles rising to the surface and reflects lights on all the walls. The girls are tickled pink for their underwater adventure.

Stairwell Magic

This was definitely a domino effect of the reno. We never intentionally thought about changing the staircase. We liked the open aspect of the glass on the bottom, though it wasn’t necessarily our style of glass/wood combo. I did think the solid wall in the middle was a bit funny, especially with the wall at the top. I kept thinking it could be a great place for a person to hide which sort of stressed me out. And do I really want to be afraid of my staircase when I am coming home at 4am from the hospital? I said no.  Plus, Billy and Amber came up with very different ideas for the staircase, on their own, without us ever asking to change the staircase as well. That made me believe we needed to change it.  All four of us thought about it. It needed to be fixed.

Billy wanted to change it to this type of glass:

Amber wanted to change it to add this wood framing:


I wanted both of course. We came to a compromise. We would tie in the wood in the living room fireplace and ceiling to the first portion of the stairwell and we would have glass for the middle portion and the top of the stairwell. This lets in so much more light and no more crazy places for shadows to hide in the middle of the night. We hit a few small snags in the process. Like the sprinkler goes right though that wall but, everything is movable 🙂

Here is the progression so far:

Billy also has the ceiling in the stairwell framed for our new “chandelier” here. So exciting to get rid of the wall sconces for more modern lighting.

Do you remember the sconces? I’m not sad to see them go.

Bathroom Update

So with the plumbing snag in the kitchen, there was also a little snag with the bathroom as well. The floor was ultra-sounded and there was an electrical conduit in the way of the shower drain. This meant that the shower base that we wanted originally had to be scrapped. But this did lead to a more exciting option – the cement base. I was worried we would have to do tile bottom instead. We have small tiles for the base in our corner shower now ( the tiny, tiny shower – did I mention that already?) and it is incredibly hard to clean. I really don’t want that for our downstairs bathroom if I can help it. I would end up spending all my time trying to make it look presentable. I’m very happy to have the subway tile for the sides, but the tiny squares that would be needed to help with drainage on the floor is really the bane of my existence. So, thank you Billy for suggesting the alternative.

However, moving the drain also means needing to make the shower bigger. That’s good news but also means the whole bathroom needs to be 6 inches bigger to fit the toilet and sink. That isn’t terrible news in itself, but it does really cut into the entry closet. I’m not sure how that is going to work yet, but I have faith that Amber will make it work. I’m also secretly crossing my fingers that maybe Billy can make the walls slightly thinner or have another magic trick to give us as much space as possible in both places 🙂

Here are the up-to-date pictures of the demolition and remodel of the downstairs bathroom.

1. Starting out:

2. The equipment is removed

Powder room - equipment removed

Powder room – equipment removed

3. The walls are removed and the floor is marked and ready for plumbing

3. The framing is put up

4. The drywall is mostly in!

It’s looking pretty good.  You can really see how the bathroom is going to look when it is all done.  I’m very excited. You can also see here the ceiling has been scraped of the popcorn stucco and the bulk head is now flat instead of wavy!  I’m still worried about the closet, but I’m also ok with getting rid of it if need be. Let’s see what happens when the dry wall and doors go in. It is also needs a bit of light 🙂

The Domino Effect

I’m one of those people who wants everything to be perfect right away. So you can imagine, once there is one shiny and new object/space, I want everything to be shiny and new. Some aspects of this reno I’m able to keep in original condition or not want to change because it is still somewhat in good condition or I just can’t part with it yet, maybe in a few months/years (for example – my glider) :). But other things that I wouldn’t necessarily have changed before just don’t look right once the other changes have been made.

For instance, I would never have thought to take out the previous shelves in the upstairs play area. It looks fine as is, maybe the wood is a bit dated, but it’s ok.

Upstairs Play room

Upstairs Play room

We didn’t think the electric fireplace however, would ever get used due to its safety risks for the kids, but why get rid of a perfectly good fireplace? I’m always against having less fireplaces but I need to be rational. Amber suggested if we removed the fireplace and heavy cabinets on the bottom of that room we could leave it open for the girls’ bigger sets (i.e. play kitchen and Barbie Dream house) and use the upper shelves for games and crafts. We would change the upper space to become more closed-in so people don’t see all the mess all the time. Genius! But this change leads to the next domino of course, if we take out the fireplace and the shelves, what do we do about the wall in the middle?

Play room

Play room

Leave it in or open it up? If we open it up, then what about the wall dividing that little room from the hallway. Do we still want that? Do we want the wall to be flush? So many questions that we just don’t know what would be best. Thank goodness for our team. We have a good general idea of what we want, but they are so good at telling us what can be done well and what’s not worth worrying about. Hence, the middle wall is now gone, the end wall is staying and Billy will make the wall flush. He thought that the inch space will only annoy us in a few months for the minimal work and money that we put into it now. Phew! IMG_3295

This leads to other things though. Now, because the playroom is opened up, we start thinking about the closed in space of the stairway. Why so many tall walls with no light and no railing and why is that landing there?

Leading up the stairs

Leading up the stairs

It is so dark and a kind of scary place that someone could hide in….hmmm I don’t like that either. We immediately text Billy, “How hard would it be to open us the stairway and add a glass wall and slats to go along with the slats in the dining room?” Not hard at all apparently. He had been thinking the same and was going to suggest the glass anyways. I told you my team are the best right?! And it’s best to do it now since we are replacing the floors. Otherwise we would have to fix the floors later too. Dominos.

Here it is in partial demolished state:

These are two of the biggest changes we didn’t originally intent to do, but they make sense. There are lots of day-to-day decisions that seem to come up as well that change the scope of the work a bit. Luckily, I haven’t found any way to domino the upstairs bathroom into the mix yet.  I really like it and it’s well done. It’s just not exactly my dream bathroom colours, and I would like double vanities, but I’m not ready to change it yet.  Let’s get one bathroom done before we start on anything else!

Demolition day!

The day we have been waiting for!

I can’t believe how much pre-work has to go into planning a renovation on your own home. First finding the right people (that part was easy – Amber and Billy are second to none). Then applying for strata approval. In our case we had to apply to a residential and a commercial strata – fun times. Then after the strata gives approval, the city application is due.  So many steps. Luckily, my team did all the work in writing and securing the applications and proposed plans. That was a welcome surprise. I thought I would be dealing with the approval process.

Then just when you have conditional approval from all parties, you need to wait for the city inspector to come. That was actually the longest part for us.  The city was amazing in getting us the building plans within 24 hours, then getting the application approved within a week – big shout out to Vancouver City Hall!  Things were moving along at a good clip. Then we were told the inspector would come in the next week. I was flabbergasted. Where were all the horror stories of delays and crotchety people who won’t even look up from their papers? Then we waited for the call for the confirmed time for inspection and… it never came.  We waited and waited and called and waited and tried to be polite, and then after 2.5 weeks, the inspector came and gave his stamp of approval.  Yeah!! We can start tearing this place apart!

It feels so good to know we can do the reno we want to do. I did have a lot of worries that either the strata or the city would say no.  It is a big deal to core into the cement floor and the ceiling of the business downstairs, but everyone said yes. Someone is looking out for us for sure 🙂

Positive thinking

Positive thinking

So Billy got the good news on a Friday night and got his crew ready over the weekend and was ready to rock and roll on Monday. They didn’t waste a minute and had the place wiped clean in just 2 days. It was time consuming and needed a lot of planning during the days to get it done right and within the regulations. There is a yoga studio below us and apparently jack hammering interferes with savasana and ujjayi etc… Who knew Yoga. So Billy was only allowed to jackhammer for 15 min every hour. Not disruptive at all.

But with the crew’s hard work and determination. It was done.  We were cleared to come look at it now that all safety concerns were out-of-the-way. And here it is. I can’t honestly say that my first thought when I walked into the space wasn’t “OMG, what have we done!” But after the first few seconds of panic, we were so excited to see the clean slate and get ready for the next step.  Bring it on!

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