Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Shenanigans

I know a blog post without pictures is kind of useless (and maybe not worth reading) but, well....


That's right - cue the sad wah-wah-wahhhhh music. There may or may not have been tears.

The worst part is that it is leaking into our new bathroom.

After the first time it leaked, and J went up on the roof to do a 'quick fix', we I said that if it happened again, we were calling someone. First up, I need my husband alive and intact and capable - we don't have the right equipment for him to be up on our roof and I really don't want to deal with the worst case scenario.

Second - he is NOT a roofer. He is handy as heck, but a roofer he is not. We need an expert!

So on Friday, after about 3 days of rain, we went into the bathroom in the morning and saw. It. The dreaded bubble mark on the ceiling. It is so heartbreaking to see that - knowing that you've got potentially a big (and expensive) problem that your handy husband can't fix.

Even more dangerous is that the route the water was taking was leading it right over to our chandelier. How do I know that? There were rusty water marks on three of the glass drops.

Holy crap.

Obviously, we stopped turning on the chandelier. And got on the phone to find a roofer.

THIS JUST IN: Did you know, that after a stint of bad weather, it is VERY HARD to find a roofer who will come do a 'fix' and not a whole roof?

Yeah. I called a number of places. 4-6 weeks to get a quote from some. Some (Mike Holmes approved) contractors didn't even call me back. Some said that if it rained this weekend, they could give me a quote, but if it didn't, they wouldn't show.


Anyways, I turned to my trusty Home Stars (a rating site for Canadian contractors) and found a highly rated company called Academia Roofing. I phoned. The owner picked up (OMG!). We talked for quite some time about his company and his work and after everything, he said he could help. He would have his guy (who is some kind of roofing genius, according to the owner) come to our place before Monday, because it was supposed to rain today (Monday) and he didn't want more damage caused. To our beautiful bathroom. Sigh.

Only downside was that it wasn't going to be cheap. Academia, like most roofing companies that I read up about online, have a minimum job price. Good news was that the owner said that if the job wasn't as complicated, he'd cut us a deal.

On Sunday, Joe, the roofing fairy, came to our house and got to work. Honestly - he showed up, knocked on the door, and said to J "I'm just going to get busy - okay?" - threw the ladder up against the porch and went on up.

J went up a few times to check the process and was pleased. Joe found the problem, cut off the old cast iron venting stack and replaced it, put on a proper protective collar/flashing (I don't know the right lingo - a roofing fairy I am not!) and then reshingled around it. All in all it took about 3.5 hours.

Best part is they guarantee the work. If it leakes again, they will come out and fix it. Or whatever it is that is causing it. But I'm confident this will work. Joe was great and Academia totally came through.

If you are looking for a roofing company for either a fix or a whole roof, I would totally recommend Academia. Gord and Joe were both fantastic and got the job done. They even cared about the colour of our shingles (to make sure the replacements matched). Roofers with design-sense. I love it!

Now - I'm hoping that the ceiling will dry and it will be (at worst) a sand and a paint touch up. The crown moulding needs a little touch up (the water seemed to eat through the caulking that filled the seams) but otherwise I think we are in decent shape.

In retrospect, I think this has been leaking slowly for a very, very long time.


Bathtub Before and After

See the mark on the ceiling in the laundry room pic? We always thought that was old, but I'm guessing it was just a slow slow leak that was exacerbated by the reno (when the plumber tied into the venting stack, I think the pipe was pushed up just a bit which caused the collar/flashing on the roof to pull away from shingles and let even more water come in).

Anyhoo - cross your fingers that this worked!! I am tired of worrying every time it rains about our bathroom :-) Painting I can do - but patching wrecked drywall? Umm...we'll have to call Josh for that!
In other news, we did a bunch of cleaning around the house and even put up some drapes in the living room. I will take pics tonight and show you!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Think I Want This

On sale today at HomeSav...the eco friendly "Park It Stool":

Don't you think that would be a nice little stool to hold a towel and a glass of wine next to my tub? I've been hunting for just the right tiny stool. Do you think this is it? Any other suggestions? Something round?

Don't know what HomeSav is yet? It is like one of those flash sale sites for home furnishings, but it is Canadian! No crazy shipping or duties, and they have awesome stuff. Sign up here using my referral link and you get $10 (or is it $15) off your first purchase. I also get $10 bucks or something (just being honest) but it seems  like a win win to me :-)

ETA: Michelle just recomended the Eames Chess Stool - I'd never seen these before!

Also recommended (by my mom!) - Bubbles from West Elm:


Monday, October 24, 2011

Nothing to See Here...

Ever feel like you have nothing to write about? I have a total blank spot these days when it comes to blogging. Sorry about that :-)

I went to the Delicious Food Show thanks to some tickets from Brittany over at My Daily Randomness (thanks Britt!) and, as expected, it was DELICIOUS!!

Other than that, we finally bought some stuff to install the silk drapes we purchased for the living room. Has anyone ever used an I-beam before for curtains? Because of our moulding, we needed something that would stick out far enough and my mom suggested an I-beam.

Looks like this:

I hope it works because it was CHEAP. And cheap is good, right about now. I'm not sure how they are installed (the kit didn't come with ANY instructions, so if you have any info I would be really grateful!

In other news, today is my parents' 40th anniversary. Yep - that's right. Forty-friggin years.

That is a long time! While they are celebrating tonight, my sister and I are taking them out for dinner this coming Saturday so it will be like a week long celebration. Happy anniversary, mom and dad!

Hope they don't kill me for posting this - but here is a pic from their wedding day, taken on my wedding day! That's right - a picture of a picture :-)

So anyways - that's all. Totally lame (other than the anniversary), I know. I promise I'll do better, especially since I'm one google friend connect follower away from 300!

Happy Monday!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Irene Saved Our Relationship**

Get ready for a personal post :-) Without pictures. Well, there is one, but it isn't of me or anyone I know or my house. You've been warned!!

So I've heard that there are a few 'big' arguments that couples have. Money. Sex. Division of household chores. We only really argue about one of those.

Cleaning the house has always been an issue for hubs and I. Mostly because I hate doing it and tend to have a higher tolerance for the 'perfectly imperfect' in our home. The fact that the camera bag has been sitting on the counter for 4 days? I barely see it, but it could make hubs pull his hair out.

J has always been tidier than me. He grew up with an awesome mom who knew (and still knows) how to maintain a perfectly kept home, with homemade meals and clean clothes drying on a line in the summer breeze. 

Lucky guy eh?

Needless to say, I haven't hit that point yet :-) There are so many things I'd rather be doing than cleaning!

When we were just dating and living in a rental condo while I was in school, we definitely butted heads over the cleaning issue. Granted, it was our first year of living together so an 'adjustment period' was to be expected, nevertheless, it wasn't fun. It seems so silly to fight over something so...insignificant, right? However, that was the root of our problem. I thought it was insignificant and hubs did not. 

To him, cleanliness was (and still is) VERY important. The ability to welcome guests into our home at any given time without being embarassed was his baseline. I get that. The problem was I wasn't embarrassed when there was a pile of mail at the front door and a stack of magazines in the kitchen. Oops.

To be fair to me, the sloppy one, I am not a disgusting pig. I swear! I don't advocate leaving piles of dirty dishes in the sink or anything like that. I just am not fussed by a pile of mail sitting on the coffee table, and my idea of a good weekend doesn't include a mad cleaning session with scrub brushes and furniture polish.

What were we going to do?

Enter Irene :-)

(not actually Irene :-)

Anyways, after many arguments and me working crazy hours at my day job, we hired Irene. Our saviour. Irene comes to visit us once every three weeks. That's it. It keeps the expense down (thus preventing a money fight) but ensures that the tub gets a SERIOUS scrub every three weeks whether we like it or not. 

That might sound gross to some - especially you 'clean' people out there who love scrubbing their tub every day or two. However, we are a house of two and things actually don't get that dirty that quickly. PLUS we do basic cleaning throughout the interim period - you know, counters, toilet, etc. 

And by we, I mean hubs. 

How did Irene save us?

Well here's the deal. 

My attitude about the cleaning issue was this. Asking me to step up my cleaning to his level felt about as challenging as J lowering his standards to my level. One wasn't necessarily better/worse than the other (like I said, I'm not DIRTY, just don't mind clutter, etc) so we knew we needed to find a compromise.

Enter Irene. A bunch of people I work with know Irene. When they heard about our issue, they promised Irene was the answer.

They were right. She was.

BI (before Irene), I would do the bare minimum and J picked up the considerable slack. To be fair, I often worked many more hours at my job than he did, so it is understandable that the last thing I'd want to do when I got home or on my one day off was clean.

AI (after Irene), J stopped getting stressed when he saw something that needed cleaning, because by the time something really needed cleaning, Irene was just a day or two from arriving and saving the day. That meant that I could sit on the couch guilt-free on a Thursday evening because J was sitting next to me and not scrubbing the floors. (okay, he rarely scrubbed the floors on a Thursday while I watched TV but you know what I mean!)

BI, J would do most of the day to day cleaning and after a while, he started resenting me (fair enough, yo!) for wanting to sit on the couch while he cleaned the floors. (I know, BAD wife).

AI, the arguments about cleaning all but disappeared. J actually loosened up on his standards and I actually got a little cleaner. I may not scrub the sink with bleach after dinner each night, but I am finally down with cleaning the kitchen and wiping down the counters when it is my turn to tidy up after dinner.

So we both changed a bit, but Irene filled the void between where J and I were on the cleanliness spectrum. 

Thank you Irene!

I do wish I were somehow...different. Someone who was bothered by clutter or less than perfect. I wish I could read articles like this on house cleaning and make my own natural cleaners. Or be the type of person who just can't stand seeing anything out of place. I'd like to say there is hope for me, but honestly, there isn't. 

Sorry Hubs. Don't say I didn't warn you!!

So tell me - do you DIY the cleaning, or do you have an Irene? If you don't have help, would you consider it or do you find it horribly offensive when someone doesn't clean their own house? Are you a clean freak? Is your spouse? I know there are some pretty divergent views on the topic and I'd love to hear what you have to say!

** Okay okay - Irene didn't SAVE our relationship - we just got her in prior to needing a proper saving. We just realized that we would never see eye to eye on the issue.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Before and Afters

Because we did such a whack reno and moved rooms around etc, it is hard to really 'get' what happened, but here is the best I could do...

Here is our old vanity, and what it now looks like:

Laundry Before and AFter

Crazy, right? Yes, we still have some work to do in there but we are TIRED, yo!!

And now the rest :-)

The view from the doorway:
Vanity Before and AFter

The window area:
Bathtub Before and After

And the shower area (the shower is actually in the same spot as the old one was - the wall just moved!):
Shower Before and After

Crazy, right?

Anyways - until I get the mirror up (and who knows when that will happen, this is the last bathroom post for a while. You guys are probably sick of it by now!! Thanks for sticking with me through all of the pics and posts and write ups on vendors etc :-) Hope it was helpful to potential renovators!

If anyone has any questions, just post away (or email me) as I'm happy to help!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey

And now, for the day you've all been waiting for (doubt it).

Budget talk!!

Since I'm a proponent of being pretty honest on blogs, I thought it could be useful to talk about our budget for the bathroom.

First up, it was expensive. I'm not going to lie.

Taking our bathroom from this:


to this:

adjusted bathroom

adjusted too

...isn't cheap. Especially because we paid someone to do the work. This was WAY out of our DIY league.

However, we did a few things to try and keep the budget under control. Things like:

* going to multiple tile stores to find who would give us the best deal on what we wanted (saved about $6 per square foot)

* negotiated EVERYWHERE. We saved a bunch by doing that. You'd be surprised how many places were more than willing to negotiate. I didn't even have to try that hard. I saved about $2000 on the tub. I'm not joking.

* worked with a designer (I know that doesn't sound like savings since we spent $$ on her but having everything pre-planned ensured that we didn't have many last minute purchases (always more $$) or mix-ups etc.

Carol sent us a budget with the initial plan. I almost choked. It was about 8K over the budget we had given her. OMG. However, in talking to her about it, we realized that a) we had underestimated some of the costs and b) there were places I knew we could save (i.e. tile and labour).

Here is a pictorial representation of Carol's suggested budget:

Proposed Bathroom Budget

And here is how we ended up spending our $$:

Actual Bathroom Budget

So you can see from this that we went over our suggested budget on bathroom fixtures (I NEEDED that tub, I'm sorry :-) but saved a little money on our vanity, labour, doors etc. It is also key to remember that our labour/electrician categories also included building a laundry room, but it was too hard for me to subtract the value of the laundry room since it was a bit of a package deal.

I also didn't include the design fee.

So it is interesting to see, visually, how much bloody money from our budget went to labour/materials. How awesome would it be if we were capable of doing the labour ourselves?! However, if we did, we'd still be living in dust and shambles and I most certainly wouldn't be able to enjoy a hot bath tonight (which I plan on doing!).

So here are a few things I learned about budgets that may or may not help you with your next reno project.

1. Unless you've been doing that particular type of reno for years, you have NO IDEA what things will cost. Prior to seeing Carol's budget, we would have a) left out a bunch of things and b) had no clue what things like faucets cost.

2. Therefore, budgets can be kind of fake. You can say your budget for a vanity is $500 all you want, but if you aren't able to find one in that price range, you can't really go without it. You have to buy one that costs more. Most people (us included) budget for major renos backwards. They pick a number out of the air ("Alright honey, let's spend 10,000 on our bathroom reno") and then go shopping and try to fit everything into that number. That is difficult because, as I mentioned, most people don't know what things cost, or every last thing that should be part of the budget.

3. If possible, have a reserve of about 5-10% for the unexpected. And I don't mean "holy shi$ we found knob and tube and it runs through our whole house" kind of unexpected. I mean the "we forgot that we need to buy SINKS to go in the vanity" or "door knobs aren't as cheap as you'd think" kind of unexpected. (that advice came from hubs).

4. It will always cost more than you think.

5. Be organized. We made a (minor) mistake in the basement when one of us didn't remember that the other had negotiated the shower glass to be a certain price and the other paid the company an extra hundred bucks. Big mistake? Nah. But it goes to show how they can happen if you aren't organized.

6. It will always cost more than you think.

So that's that. If you are setting up your budget, I think the best thing to do is figure out what you want to do, find all of the materials/fixtures you want and see what they cost, get your contractor quote (yes, get that after you do the layout and figure out what you are buying because that can make a difference in what the contractor charges you - i.e. glass mosaic tiles cost more than regular mosaics which are more than porcelain).

Once you add it all up, THEN you know how much you have to spend (or save, depending on your situation).

So for those of you who have done a reno - how did you do your budget? Did you go over? What kind of things did you forget to include?


Monday, October 17, 2011

Shower Glass

Second last permanent piece to go in the bathroom (mirror is last but I haven't figured that out yet) and it is finally done :-)

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you'll know that the glass was supposed to go in a week and a half ago, but it met a tragic death as it was being transported into the truck at the manufacturing facility.

I actually didn't even get too fussed about it, because a) It could have been worse (broke at my house, damaged the marble, etc.) and I wasn't even expecting it then.

The glass was re-made and was installed on Tuesday of last week.


The door swings both ways, but realistically we won't ever swing it in because it would be awkward to get around to turn the taps.

Ideally, I would have loved the hinges to be on the corner of the glass, so then you could easily open the door inwards to turn the water on, and it wouldn't come close to hitting the tub when you opened out. However, both of the shower glass guys we had quote the job strongly discouraged it. From what I understand, there would be too much weight on the end panel and it would bow over time.

I often don't follow that kind of advice when it goes against my design sense, but in this case, with two nay-sayers, I would have felt STUPID if I went against their advice and ended up having a problem in the long run.

You would have to really heave on the door to make it hit the tub, but just in case, hubs put one of those tiny vinyl bumper (it's clear) on the door so that if it does make contact, it has some protection. It is on the door in these pics but you can't even see it!

And remember our discussion about the Starphire glass vs. the regular glass? Well, for budgetary reasons, we decided to go with regular glass. Once it was up, I could definitely see what everyone was talking about. The glass does really have a coloured tinge to it, but I actually kind of like it!

This photo makes it more noticeable than it is IRL, but it gives you an idea of it:

I personally feel like the colour kind of works! I think that if we'd done a more....expensive and intricate tile design on the walls, it would maybe be worth the clear glass to show it off properly. But with the subway tile, I think this is okay!

We worked with Orest from The Shower Guys here in Toronto. The service was great and the price was fantastic (quite a bit less than the others I contacted for quotes). J watched the installation like a hawk and was really pleased.

And here is a quick peek at the basement shower - we had the glass installed there too (by a different company, but that is a long story :-)


So that's that. Last 'major' thing to do is the mirror, and then I need some art and a window covering :-)


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Working with a Designer

I'm sure it will come to no surprise to any of you who have been reading my blog regularly (or even only for the last 2 weeks) that deciding to purchase an E-Design package from Carol Reed Interior Design Inc. was by FAR our best decision.

It was my idea, but our decision :-)

I knew that for such an important reno, I needed help. My husband is awesome and basically lets me have what I want design-wise, but that means that all of the real decision making ends up resting on my shoulders.

Which is scary. Especially when you are moving walls, etc.

So, as I've mentioned before, I convinced my husband that it would be worthwhile to order the design package from Carol that I've been talking about for eons as it would make sure we didn't make any big mistakes and point us in the right direction regarding materials etc.

The info is right on Carol's website, so I'll tell ya. The package cost $1250 plus HST and it was worth EVERY last penny.

Basically, here is how the whole thing works.

1. Order the package online. Pay a deposit.

2. Carol then sent me a questionnaire to determine what J and I were looking for and what our styles were like. She also sent detailed instructions for how to determine the proper dimensions of the space to send to her.

3. Wait patiently.

4. Jump for joy when you see an email come in from the woman herself. She provided me with two different layout options and a full explanation of each and the pros and cons to consider.

Here were the options:

5. We then poured over Carol's comments on each design and decided to go with option #1. YAY. Sure, it involved moving the toilet and we were told that was going to be stupid expensive, but the layout just made sense that way. (just so you know, it was NOT stupid expensive and was NOT all that hard).

6. Then we waited.

7. The day finally came (it took about 5 weeks I think) when Carol emailed and said "it's ready!". We payed the remainder of the balance and then the emails started pouring in. I think there were 8 :-)

8. I literally jumped for joy as I read what she prepared. She clearly 'got' us. It was perfect. Almost every tiny detail was included, including the height of the chair rail. Seriously. Deciding on that stuff could have made me go nuts.

Here are a few examples of what she sent:

Sorry - some of the quality of the drawing was lost when I uploaded it onto blogger. But you get the idea. Gorgeous, right?

Carol also sent a few inspiration boards:

The package also included a budget (I'll talk about that tomorrow), a listing of suppliers as well as a full detailed memo that explains each choice/suggestion/item. It was awesome.

So that is how it pretty much went. Carol was really fantastic and answered my additional questions, and when I was panicking about certain items (i.e. what veneer to choose for the vanity), she would set me straight and pick for me :-) I would send her 'sneak peeks' of the renos and she would reply with such enthusiasm that I would get excited and feel good about what we were creating.

So overall, I couldn't be happier with what we received. The final product (in my opinion) is outstanding and is something that I think will please many potential buyers in the future (although we are NEVER moving now that I have that tub). I felt much more at ease with the final decisions knowing that someone who knew better had her hand in the decision :-) While I think the finishes are what people notice first about it, I know that the REAL value in choosing to work with Carol was that she took us from this:

To this:

Enough said, right?


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

All Tiled Up

Tiles. The bane of my existence. Or more specifically (or accurately, I should say), the bane of my husband's existence.

I probably made J go to 3 or 4 tile least 2 to 3 times EACH. I have picture upon picture of all of the tiles I looked at. Here is a very small assortment of such pictures:

Bathroom Shopping 2
Bathroom Shopping 2
Bathroom Shopping 2
Bathroom Shopping 2
Bathroom Shopping 2

As I mentioned - those are just a few of the many many photos I have from our many many trips to the tile store. There are just SO many options, and when you factor that in with my serious fear of making a bad decision, well, you come to a standstill.

Even after we received our design plan from Carol Reed, I kept looking around. I didn't know when to stop!!

However, I finally did. I finally decided to go with Carol's first choice - the 1x1 polished cararra marble mosaic. I think this is the picture that finally sold me on it:

Source: House and Home (I think one of the Princess Maragaret Lottery houses...)

I loved how the colours all worked together and how the marble all seemed to 'twinkle' (so little flashes of polished stone as opposed to the big flashes that you'd see in a large 12x12 piece of polished marble).

Plus it was Carol's first choice. Did I mention that? :-)

Of course, I then had to call around to get the best price. First place I called was my favourite shop, Saltillo, and talked to Hayley (if you haven't shopped there and worked with Hayley, I *highly* recommend it! She is fantastic). Unfortunately, they only carried the 1x1 in honed (I really wanted polished). Honestly, if they'd had it in stock, I wouldn't have called around anywhere else. That is how much I like working with them.

Next up, we went to a place our contractor recommended - Tile City on the Danforth. We had great service there and they also gave me a great price on the tile, however they didn't have it in stock and it would take about a week. Not bad - we could work with a week. They also had fantastic pricing on 3x6 marble subway tiles - we didn't end up using that tile, but they had by far the best pricing on those that we saw ($8 psf).

Finally, on the way home from the cottage, J and I stopped by Marble Trend. Marble Trend used to be in the Design District here in Toronto, but recently moved up to...Concord? Vaughan? I'm not sure what you call the area but it is Hwy 400 and Finch-ish. I remember when I was madly looking for thresholds for the basement bathroom that I stopped in there and they had surprisingly good prices.

Anyhoo - we stopped by on the way back to the city, met Jody (our sales rep) and she not only negotiated a great price on the tiles, but she was able to take us to the back and show us the actual tiles we'd be buying. That is what ultimately sold us. We were able to see the quality of the tile and pull some out of the boxes and lay them on the ground and see exactly what we were buying.

So that's that - we ended up buying all of the marble floor tiles and the marble thresholds there. Here's a tip for bathroom renovators - you know how everyone says that Home Depot and Lowes have a great price on pre-fabricated marble thresholds? Buy them from Marble Trend instead. They were WAY cheaper. WAY.

This photo shows an up close and personal angle of the tiles:

                                The faucet that almost made me lose my sh*t

We used Mapei grout in Frost - a light grey/whiteish colour. Also purchased from Marble Trend. Of course, when we ran out of grout and Marble Trend didn't have any in stock, I started to worry just a little because it isn't stocked at Lowes, however I lucked out and found it at Rona. Disaster averted. To be fair, Marble Trend offered to get it in that night and Jody said she'd bring it to her house and I could pick it up from her in the evening (I couldn't make it mid week, during the day because I have a J.O.B., you know!). So they were very accommodating, but luckily I didn't have to go through all of that!

Subway tiles were from Olympia on Lawrence Ave. Again, I usually get a better price from Saltillo, but it was a Sunday and I was in a pinch and Olympia was open and Saltillo wasn't - spent about an extra 20 cents per square foot, but, well, I was stuck.

Subway tiles, pre-grout (used white grout for this):

And post-grout:

LOVE subway tile :-)

So there you have it - the long drawn out story as to how we chose and where we bought our tiles.