Friday, April 29, 2011

Slight Delay...

I have this post all drafted up and saved about the bathroom renovation layout options, but I am all a mess after getting up in the wee hours of the morning to watch THE wedding.

I loved every bit of it and am confused as to why it seems to have meant so much to me, but it is what it is.

And what it is is beautiful.

We had some debate at work about the kiss and whether it was 'enough'. A friend sent me a video of their kiss and one that captures the kiss of Diana and Charles. What do you think?

And CLICK HERE for a video of Charles and Diana - go to 4:38 in the video for their peck.

Anyways - back to normal house stuff on Monday when (hopefully) my Royal Wedding obsession has subsided.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm a MLS Sleuth...

Okay so this house just popped up on MLS.

975K for a big detached Victorian.

Here is a photo of the living room:

And the kitchen:

And the bathroom:

Nice house, right? Large detached in the city with a good combo of original details and modern updates - not so easy to find.

Of course I needed to know more. So my mad internet skillz found the old listing from 2007 - listed at 699K!!!

Here is what this bad boy used to look like. The living room:

And the kitchen:

And the bathroom:

Anyone scratching their head on this one? Is it possible that there are other rooms that have been massively renovated to justify a 275K increase in 4 years? Wowie!! I mean, it definitely shows better now with the decor choices, and it is a gorgeous house (no denying that) but I am flabbergasted. Our market is insane.

Meanwhile, in Windsor (a city that I actually really love), you can get this for 689K

That's right - a 4800 square foot historic home in a really beautiful neighbourhood. Here is the mls descriptions:


Toronto is all SORTS of crazy, non?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I got a call from a sweet woman named MARIE from Home Depot and...


Woot! We will probably pick it up tomorrow and maybe we'll test our marriage this weekend by trying to hang it.

Any tips?

(If you are sitting there scratching your head thinking "what wallpaper?", click here. If you are wondering "what marriage?" click here.)


This is How You Know... made a good decision on choosing a designer.

As we've discussed before, we spent a lot of time deciding what the best layout would be for our master bathroom. There are a few things that make the space tricky:

1. We are taking down the wall between the bathroom and the adjacent laundry room and making them into one large room. Separate tub and shower anyone? Laundry behind chic sliding doors? Sign me up!
2. There is that weird stack bump in the wall.
3. There is only one vent in the bathroom (and none in the existing laundry room).
4. To save money, we don't want to move the toilet.
5. The windows are quite low so it will be impossible/hard to have anything built in on that side of the room (i.e. drop in tub, vanity).

Here are a few before pictures (as always, don't judge :-)

Laundry room (note the low and crooked window**):

This is where we were envisioning the laundry closet:

Window in the bathroom (see the vent underneath and the stack next to it):

And here is one you've seen - but it shows the nasty tub and the toilet we are working around:

So this is what Hubs and I ended up with:

...but the shower was going to be more like this to accomodate for the vent and the window issue:


So here is where the story gets good :-) We send all of our info to Carol and after, oh, a day or so, she writes back and drops a very large bombshell on us.

She thought we were making a mistake by joining the laundry and the bath. A very big mistake.

Basically, she explained to us that while having a joint room as a young, child-free couple is one thing, it doesn't necessarily make sense if there were kids in the picture. What would happen if I wanted to soak in the tub and the dryer was still running because there was, oh, a zillion loads to go before the next day started? (super annoying) According to Carol, kids make a LOT of laundry and having a closet in our bathroom that doesn't really allow for much of this:

Additionally, Carol explained that having a nice, separate laundry room on the second floor would be seen as a bonus to any potential buyers (if we ever move - which depending on this reno is UNLIKELY! :-) as opposed to a closet in the bathroom, which is more what you'd see in a condo/apartment where there isn't much room available.

After reading her suggestion, J and I felt like this:

I can't believe we didn't think that way! We'd seen this great reno in an old Style at Home that had the washer and dryer in the bathroom and we though it was such a great idea. Of course, who knows the family situation of the homeowners in that scenario. Even though we might not have kids, we certainly don't want to turn off a potential buyer with kids (or plans for kids) from buy our house in the future.

So there you have it. A wrench in our plans. The unexpected happened right off the bat. What would happen next? Would we get what we wanted out of the new plan? Would we have to sacrifice the separate tub and shower? What would happen to the magical mystical double sink vanity that I've heard is the marriage counsellor of our generation? Will we be excited about the new plan or would we end up kicking ourselves for not going with our original one to begin with? Only time will tell....(and by time, I mean, come back tomorrow :-)

Stay tuned!

** to be fair to our window, it isn't as crooked as it looks. The neighbour's house has something akin to brick wallpaper on the side of if and that isn't on straight. So it makes it look worse. But it is crooked. Just not as wonky as this picture shows :-)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Master Bath = Master Reno

I figured that since the basement is almost complete, it is time to let everyone in on our master bathroom progress.

If you remember, this is what it looked like when we purchased the house:

Keep in mind that this photo makes it look WAY nicer than it currently is (see photo below for a reality check). The tiles are starting to move around, there is most certainly mold growing in a few spots, and the paint is peeling off of the ceiling.

Oh and PS, this photo is a great example of adjusting your white balance to make it look way brighter than reality :-)

And here is where we are on the reno:


See that box on the bump in the wall?

Stack Photo

Hubs and the contractor cut a hole into the wall to get an idea of what was behind it. As you can see, that is the vent that goes up and into the attic. From what I see on Holmes on Holmes, venting is VERY important :-) Good news is that it looks like that 'eyesore' can be made a lot smaller once we get moving on the renovation.

As far as timing goes, we are slated to start the demo mid-May. Joe, the contractor, is away in Italy until then so we are sort of waiting. Although we don't mind because we are currently....


You heard me...after all my himming and hawing, hubs and I decided to take the leap and work with a designer for the bathroom project.

Why? you might ask?

Well - we learned a LOT from our basement reno, and that wasn't half as challenging as the bathroom will be. Or as expensive.

First up - we had NO CLUE how to work the budget. We had a budget in mind, but clearly we were DELUSIONAL as to what things cost and to what we needed to include. We weren't too far off on most things, but the biggest issue was actually not budgeting for certain items at all.

For example, our contractor didn't include the trim work in his quote. Of course, we didn't even think about asking for that when we agreed to a price (as we'd never done this before) so halfway through the reno, when I asked about trim, we had to pony up a bunch more money. That wasn't fun.

We also forgot to ask about refinishing part of the stairway. It was in rough shape:


So yeah - to take it from that to this:


cost money. (the 'after' photo is prior to paint, of course)

Secondly: I was making myself CRAZY with self-doubt. Since this is our main family bath, I didn't want to get in over my head with making a bad decision. I'm not talking about 'little' things like tile choices (although that would have been NOT fun for anyone involved) - but the major decisions like layout.

Finally: This is NOT going to be cheap.  We don't have the skills to DIY this project, so there is a lot of money at stake. Again - it was starting to feel like too much pressure to "go it alone".

So, after a little bit of convincing, hubs agreed and I placed my order for an E-Design by none other than Carol Reed of Carol Reed Interior Design.

I have been obsessed with Carol's design work for a very (very) long time and actually had a lot of her design work in my inspiration files. Like this:

Bathroom Inspiration

and this:

Bathroom Inspiration

and this:

Bathroom Inspiration

Carol's incredible design work wasn't the only reason I wanted to work with her. She has an "E-Design" package that is perfect for someone like me.

Basically, she sends out a bunch of surveys and instructions to fill out to get an idea of who we are, what we are using the space for and what style we like. I then sent a hand drawn layout of the bathroom with the dimensions and some inspiration pictures.

With the package you basically get a few layout options - of course you then work with Carol to figure out what works best, make any changes you might like etc. Once you've settled on the layout, she gets to work figuring out the 'design'. She will make cabinetry and lighting recommendations and provide options for things like tile, paint colour, fixtures etc.

Additionally (and most importantly) - she provides you with a great budget breakdown showing what percentage of your budget is taken up by what.  Also included is a realistic price point for each item (i.e. xxxx dollars for each faucet, etc.).

Since we are still in progress, I can't let you in on all the nitty gritty, but I will tell you that the first  design-related email that Carol sent me basically confirmed our decision and justified her entire fee.

More on that to come :-)


Monday, April 25, 2011

The Easter Bunny (sort of) Hopped By

I hope everyone had a great Easter. We didn't get up to much - dinner at my sister's place on Friday night and then spent Saturday doing errands (probably my least favourite task!).

The biggest stop (IMO) was when we swung by one of my favourite tile stores - Saltillo Tile. Saltillo is this really great tile shop with lots of selection. I wasn't keen on going when I first started shopping, mostly because Sarah Richardson goes there a lot (so I assumed it was out of my price range) but when we were hunting around for the bathroom tiles, they a) had them in stock and b) the price was reasonable.

When I went to buy the tiles, I dealt with a really awesome salesperson who was easy to work with and really knowledgeable.  Of course, this was all the sweeter when she dropped the price on the tile by a LOT. I mean it. I thought - maybe I'd get a dollar or something taken off but I was really impressed by their willingness to work with my budget.

Anyways, everyone knows about how that tile job turned out

So as an Easter gift to ourselves, hubs and I went back to Saltillo to buy some more tile in preparation for the (hopefully) BIG FIX.

We picked up 1.5 boxes of the tile (which should be more than enough):


And of course I had a seriously HUGE laugh when I realized that the box I bought was the same that I had returned (because the contractor over-estimated what we'd need by quite a bit).

How could I tell? Because I had written directions to the store on the box for my husband as I wasn't in town when the return happened:


Isn't that hilarious?

What isn't hilarious is that we had to pay a restocking fee for the return of those tiles and of course just bought the same ones back. Ha.

Oh the lessons we learn in renovations.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Proof that I'm Crazy

At 10:56a.m., GUFF posted this:

At 12:25 p.m. I was here:

And at 12:45 p.m. I was here:

And unforunately, at 12:50 p.m. I was here:

Like this:

Now that, my friends, is how you know you are crazy. A mid-day "haul ass" to GUFF to look at a seriously awesome 9 drawer dresser for the bedroom...only to find out it is not going to work. What GUFF didn't say on the ad was:

Yep - WAY too small. Boo hoo is right.


I'm in Love.

...with these images from Kirsten's house! If you don't know Kirsten or don't follow her blog (6th Street Design School), you are insane. She is an interior designer in Utah who (I imagine) must have a VERY successful career because she. is. amazing.

Seriously - take a look at her living room:

I DREAM of the day my living room could look this finished and put together. The combination of colours is perfect IMO. The drapes, the pillows, that coffee table. Holy mother.

I also love the tv stand - she found it at a garage sale! I love that it is sleek and simple and keeps everything hidden away.

Here are is a pic of her son's nursery - LOVE the curtains! And the airplanes.

Anyways - I just wanted to spread some Thursday love and inspiration thanks to the extremely talented Kirsten at 6th Street Design School.

Have a nice (long) weekend everyone! Happy holidays :-)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Figs and Ginger

Hi friends!  Thanks for all of your comments on the new wallpaper - it has been ordered and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival!! Woot!

After yesterday's experience with terrible customer service, I thought I should also show the flip side of things so that I can stop wallowing in my "I hate everyone" feelings ;-)

So remember my best friend, Jen, who had this cutie patootie?

Well for Jen's birthday, I ordered her this gorgeous 'family' necklace from Figs and Ginger:

(from their site:) Figs + Ginger is a husband and wife team making Eco-Friendly sterling jewelry. Figs strives to design affordable & hip jewelry that can grow with you through every stage of life. Each piece is made by hand and much of their work is inspired by the simple beauty found in forests, both imaginary & real.

The even cooler thing is that they have an 'upgrade' policy - if you expand your family to include more babies, you can send the necklace back and for a small fee, add some more little baby birds!! Super cute, eh? (technically they don't 'add' a baby - they swap the necklace for a new one - but you know what I mean!)

Anyways - I ordered the necklace and it was shipped out super fast - however when Jen sent me a picture of her wearing it, I noticed that there was only one momma bird - like this:

Still very cute but not exactly what I ordered. I emailed Figs and Ginger and they responded RIGHT away saying they'd ship out the correct necklace and a return shipping label for the original gift. Jen received the new necklace in two days or something like that AND F&G threw in some super cute earrings for the mistake!
I really believe that good customer service isn't just about how you deal with the good stuff - mistakes happen and it is how you deal with those issues that separates the good from the great. I'll take a great correction of an error over a rude sales associate any day.
So there you go - an example of exceptional customer service from a little husband and wife team making jewellery and sending it all over the world. Pretty great in my book!
(and no, Figs and Ginger isn't sponsoring this post - I just wanted to tell you guys about a great product with even better people behind it).