Sunday, August 23, 2015

Running Water IS Essential

Well the bathroom renovation (complete gut and rebuild) came along well.  It shouldn't but it always surprises me how much work goes into such a small room.  Arguably the most important room the bathroom really does need to be great.  We put a lot of thought (long drawn out exhausting conversations at 2 am after way too many beers...) into the layout and composition of the bathroom. After all that hoopla we decided to only change small things, like the f*#%ing walls!  But just to keep this rant under control I'll just dish it out bullet style.
  • Rip out everything in the bathroom... including whatever is nailed down
  • Drywall
  • Ceiling boards
  • Endless blown-in insulation 
  • Illegally hidden junction boxes....
  • Sink, tub, and other bathroom fixtures
  • Annoying walls
  • Scary trap door to the basement (obviously leaving the drop of death open to any unsuspecting victim)
  • Layers of flooring, yes layers...
The demolition took a lot longer than it should have mostly because I was working on my own while Jeremy was trying to keep up with seeding here in Saskatchewan.

Now this bathroom being the second to last room to renovate has taken us this long to get to because of all the previous mentioned discussions (aka: arguments).  Although we only decided to make minor changes and keep the existing foot print there is a lot of behind the walls work here.  So here is the bullet version... hahaha, bullets are my thing today.
  •  Bury gigantic heavier than hell cast iron vent stack in the wall instead of having it in the middle of the room.  (I had to be on spark watch when Jeremy cut that sucker).
  • Move tub and shower plumbing to the other wall, to allow for easier tap access.  
  • Re-plumb sink and toilet with bright shiny new pex. 
  • Install a fan that actually vents....
  • Rebuild trap door 
Now of course without fail I make all kinds of crazy decisions that stretch a simple bathroom drywall job into a freaking Sistine Chapel style job.  But in truth I didn't find it so arduous as there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.  

Once the walls were smooth, perfect, (hahaha) and painted it is time to install the wiring for the heated tile.  It is a lot of work, installing the tile over top of the delicate wiring.  Mostly because I have Jeremy over my shoulder reminding me every tile not to mess up the wires.... But that's over now and I really should move on.

When we installed the tiles in the kitchen we used 1/4 inch spacers that were kinda cheap and not horribly ideal to work with.  Jeremy threw them all away in a fit of rage after we were finished.  I asked him to keep some of them, you know, "just incase".  And of course he didn't. 
Sure enough we decided to start tiling on Canada day when everyone is enjoying a cool beverage near or on a beautiful stretch of water, and every hardware store is closed.  I called everyone in town looking desperately for some spacers and was able to gather a grand total of approximately 40 spacers.  Well if you've never tiled before that just isn't really enough....  Unless your super motivated to get this floor finished!  So working carefully and robbing spacers from one area to the next we made it happen. 

With a couple base boards, and other various finishing touches we completed the bathroom (rebuild) in about two weeks.  I'm very happy with the results and even got to have a shower in the new tub the day before I left on holidays. 
 Completion is such a sweet sweet word.  I'm absolutely in love with this bathroom, it is so much better.  If you notice the rug on the bottom right, it covers the trap door and I have another small rolling vanity there with it's own mirror, outlet and light.  The bathroom is functional and pretty, my favourite combination.

With this room done there is only the porch to go.  There is a lot happening in there but for now I'm taking the summer to do my favourite summertime things (essentially finding water and drinking beer next to it).

The Author

The Time Suckers.  I mean adventure seeking hooligans.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

So Far Behind I'm Ahead

Yes before I get anymore phone calls or e-mails I know I'm exceedingly slow on writing up this post (three months).  So what goes on around here in three months well....

April 2015 the month of money

Before stain and endless coats of poly
April turned out to be the most frustrating of the renovation (as proven by my blogging absence).  It wasn't exhausting or even heart wrenching it was just calling ourselves out and putting on a couple new roofs that we never planned for nor budgeted for.  We had our buddy Jim do the work, and damn did he do a good job, but double damn it still set us back.  Other finishes have been happening around here too.  Things like staining the bathroom and bedroom doors and other miscellaneous tedious things.  The counters went onto the cabinets in April as well and all the hardware, plumbing and a couple fixtures went up.  Things are finding their place more and more everyday.


My pretty sink (the colour is truffle if anyone cares)
Putting the new (extremely fancy) sink into the new countertops was one of the most nerve racking moments I've had during this impossible renovation task.  I chose to go all out and buy the granite sink because it's so pretty.  Holy shit it wasn't that big when I picked it out.  See those little white dots those are the knock outs for your taps or whatever you decide to add onto the sink.  The way you make those holes is to hold a dowel on them and smash it with a hammer.... it says in the instructions that no matter if you follow them, if you break it it is not the sinks fault.... well shit.  Luckily for us Jeremy is a super genious with a hammer so we are good.

May 2015 the month of lost time and that feeling of helplessness you just can't shake

May was just a black hole.  Working for real money really blows.  Jeremy got swamped by seeding and left the majority of the bathroom (almost the last room!) in my hands.  Now I'm not adverse to a chunk of demo but as anyone who has ever read this blog before may remember the layers here are just phenomenally incomprehensible.  Layers of plywood, lino, blown in insulation, ship lap, batting insulation, drywall, extra walls, and built in cabinets.  Add the thickest layer of nails (I'm not joking I had a layer of nails) as thick as my wrist (that is an exaggeration) and yeah it was super fun.  Now I could be just a little disillusioned with demolition....  OK fine I'm just tired of it all.  But with that in mind it did get done.
Finished Roof of the Studio
Here is a clean photo of the kitchen
Although we have had a rough month I am loving the new kitchen.  When we first installed the cabinets and doors we did have one really big problem, they were pink.  Not bright pink but just pink enough to make you look twice.  After a long deliberation we decided that pink wasn't the end of the world and if it really got to us we could just wait for summer and paint them.  So we bit the bullet and put the counters on.  Once the counters were there it's like the cosmos came together and my cabinets didn't even have an iota of pink.  I know it's there but luckily enough no one else seems to see it....  If you do I really don't want to hear about it.

Missing from the above photo is my new custom built (by Jeremy) island countertop.

June 2015 just another month to loose the mind

So that brings me to June, another black hole if I don't say so myself (and I do).  It has only just begun but now with the rebuild in full swing I'm hoping we start to feel that high of accomplishment.  It just keeps looming everyday as I step over more boxes and more building supplies just to get in the fridge I can't help but feel the desire to just break for the boarder.

The bathroom progress although slow is coming on daily now.  We have all of our materials so hopefully we can stop bleeding money (for a while at least).  With mudding and taping drywall around the corner I should really wrap this gigantic update up and get at it.

Oh and just because I thought it was so funny.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Perfect Timing

 Well, it's done.  Yep almost everything is done.  More or less we are done.... At least enough to move back into the big house.  It took us exactly 3 months and two days.  This past month has been almost entirely dedicated to the wood floors, well that and cabinets, counter tops, and a whole bunch of other little things.  Ever since the beginning of this massive renovation endeavor I have imagined these floors redone.  I knew we would get here but actually tackling the project that I've had on my mind for two years was very rewarding.

But like anything else it had to go in stages.  The idea has always been to try and make it look like the staircase was always there so it also had to get refinished at the same time.

Step One: Clear away all the crap that is stored in the bedroom and the endless amounts of stray tools and beer cans.

Step Two: Rent big sanding machine.... Return said machine and get the bigger one.

Step Three: Use 60 grit paper to really get down under the 70 year old stain.

Step Four: Break the machine, return, repeat.

Step Five: Repeat step three using different grits of paper til you get that smoothish rustic floor look.

Step Six: Put new treds on the staircase and sand the crap out of them with the handheld, including but not limited to the sides and underneath taking care not to sand all the edges off the steps.... not as easy as you would think.

Step Seven: Clear away beer cans.

Step Eight: Bring home the smaller corner sander, proceed to sand the corners and all the other little stuff you missed.

Step Nine/Ten: Vacuum. Clean. Vacuum.

So the floors were ready to take some stain!  Both an exciting and terrifying moment.  It's not like paint where you could just slap another colour over it if you don't like it.  After all that work sanding I wasn't about to restart.... So with a deep breath it was go time....

Oh. My. God. It's f-ing red!!!!! 

I panicked.... I'm not proud of that moment but I cried.... Hard.  My devastation couldn't be seen by the world, I kept it to myself and cried harder.  We had done so many tests, and it still wasn't the right colour I was dumbfounded, but I couldn't stop either.  I had to dig deep and just 'keep swimming' (in my ocean of sawdusty tears, hahaha).
  • Wipe away tears
  • Rally
  • Stain Staircase
  • Continue throughout the rest of the project with a beer fueled rage

The next day it was time to start the first of three coats of polyurethane.  I remember walking into the room of my crushed renovation dreams... as I hadn't slept all night I teared up right away, but this time in relief.  They weren't red anymore they were exactly what they were supposed to be!  Thank you stain gods and colour fairies!  Days later I finished the floors and finally it was time to start getting organized for countertops and kitchen plumbing.

Before we could really get going on the finishing of the kitchen I had to clean the house.  Seriously clean, that dust from sanding the floors got into everything!  We did our best to keep it controlled but it was impossible. If I've learned anything about renovation I've learned that cleaning is half the job.

It took a day but it got done and we moved back in on March 31st, 2015.  Many things still need to be completed including baseboards, trim, the island countertop, bathroom door... etc...  Finding a place for everything is my next goal, so pinterest has become my favorite time waster recently.  Reclaiming the house doesn't just give us all our privacy back but I get my studio back and Jeremy gets his shop back.  Now if the snow would just stop coming down there is a whole list of things to do in the yard too.  Including but not limited to: New roofs for all three buildings, a deck, flower beds, garden beds, fire pit reno, blah, blah, blah.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Heartbeat

Tile Heating System
 It can be felt in the air!  Yes that's right Spring is coming.  Along with a hard hitting Spring we appear to be moving with leaps and bounds.

I finally finished the mudding and taping after quite a few hair raising moments where I was sure the whole f**king wall had to come down to fix a crack 3 inches long.  The depths of my drywall insanity were becoming perilous to say the least.  So with the primer up and a couple of deep breathing exercises it was time to get on to flooring.

The tile we picked out for the kitchen is really random and super interesting but I suck at picking colours at the best of times and Jeremy just refuses to do it, So I decided to wait until I could see the floor before committing eggshell finish related suicide.

Drywall and Primer Done
We have tackled some new projects over the last few weeks.  Things like installing a heated tile floor in the kitchen.  It was relatively simple to do.  It wasn't an easy decision as the heating systems can be quite expensive but we caught a sale one day, and pulled the trigger.  Everyone who has heated tile said we would regret it if we didn't do it.  I believed them.  The only part of the process that really held us up was a tiny little step in the directions which stated that we needed to use a hot glue gun to place the sensors down... Well... Do you know where your glue gun is?  We didn't either and apparently neither did half the bloody town.  I called and messaged everyone I kinda sorta knew and finally was able to locate an ex-co-workers mother who is super crafty and not only knew where her glue gun was but actually had glue for said gun, whew.  So about 30 seconds of hot gluing and we were ready to lay some tile.  Note: Wet saws and -15C are not a great mix.

 We had a nice day in February (well not as cold or windy as most at least) and Jeremy tackled the installation of the new front door.  Shockingly everything went as planned and the door looks great.

After a lot of elbow grease we got the tile all done and I finally picked a colour for the walls, Scroll Beige... Sounds boring... Looks boring.   But, throw some white cabnets and all the other frilly stuff in there and I'm sure it will be a great back drop.

Walls and Floors Complete
More Floor... I really love the floor :)

 I finally feel like we are making headway.  We are in a place where every hour spent in the house is manifested into a visual difference.  So it's easy to find the effort within to push just a little harder or longer.
Some of the cabinets
I suppose my good mood may be encouraged by the looming of Spring.  Time to bust out the gum boots, spring coats, and bikes.
Bike riding March 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Longer Days

The new front door.
 Well, as February carries us closer to the ever elusive Spring, our spirits are bolstered by some fairly serious progress towards civility.  Jeremy took a long and probably arduous trip to Edmonton at the end of January to pick up the second half of our kitchen cabinets.  Where upon he was also under instruction to pick-up (if he could...) a door, lights, tile, and all sorts of hoopla.  With many phone calls and photo e-mails and about 16 hours of shopping he made it home with all the essentials... he managed to cram 1500lbs of tile into the back seat of his truck!

I am very impressed by his tenacity, as I could only have handled about 3 hours at most.  Thanks to Jeremy's cousin's hubby Rob in Edmonton for being an awesome interior-decorating wingman, hanging out in Tile and Lighting stores with Jeremy for an entire (very long) Saturday!

I know I have been more than vocal about my kitchen floors (it still hurts).  Cutting them out was extremely hard, I have trouble envisioning the completed project without them.

Unbelievable, that this is only one area.

It has taken us so long to get up to the resurfacing of the renovation because of all the things that go on behind the scenes, or walls in this case. Things like puzzling through the literal rats nest of wires that existed in the basement.  To properly give an idea of what I'm talking about, imagine NEVER tripping a breaker when the fridge, microwave, toaster, and truck block heater (at -40C) are all on the same circuit.  A disaster waiting to happen indeed.

Jeremy, with his OCD in overdrive, has remedied the situation, rewiring the entire house and bringing it into the proper century and up to code to boot. 
In Progress...

 I have been desperately trying to get the drywall done (motivation being my biggest opponent), and with Jeremy at my back the entire time asking if I'm done yet it has been a rough go.  Luckily my mother came for a visit and helped to drive the project forward... until we had a beer or two.... Oh well, I don't get to see her enough as it is, so to hell with renos for a while.   Life can't come to a halt...  well, a complete halt anyhow. We did end up getting the drywall sanding done, yelling across the house with the shop vac going.  A good visit all in all.

Under the disaster of a hardwood floor there was shiplap.  More than enough strength to support my new beautiful tiles, once Jeremy glues and screws a plywood subfloor on to it. I am really happy with the huge variation in the tiles and I think the cupboards are going to work really well.


  • Complete Painting (pick a colour... Ugh)
  • Lay Tile and Grout
  • Build Cabinets
  • Install Cabinets
  • All the other little crap in between.

Photo just doesn't do them justice...
So that is were we stand with all of our excuses.  Ever re-frame an entire wall to move a door over by one inch?... Its ridiculous and oh so vital.  Crawl into a space where no human should go to pass wires through a tiny hole you can't really see?  Cry with a prybar and a hammer in your hand (don't answer that)?  But as the days get longer we get more and more done.  Its only a matter of time (4 weeks) before.... well who knows.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Chimney Sheeted in

 I uploaded the photos for this blog post and promptly told Jeremy I had no idea what to rant about... Things are moving quickly around here,  At least in weekend warrior reno time.

Jeremy sheeted in the chimney (I know it would have been awesome to keep it Jenny, but the marriage came first).  Once the final finishing materials are decided upon we will pick some stacked stone to cover it with.

My lovely (if not necessarily compromising) husband has also been throwing hours into wiring... the entire house.

left to right: chimney, built in pantry (barn board door?), bump out for fridge. 
A year and a half ago (July 2013) we stared the attic renovation on the big house, and the electrical has all kind of been.... temporarily wired into the grid.  It's all properly done but hasn't been properly run into it's own circuit breaker.  And this theme pretty much sums up the rest of the electrical.  I would love to have met our 1950's counterparts just to ask them what the hell they were thinking...  Pushing bafflement aside Jeremy keeps plowing through old junction box spiders and is almost finished  What a relief it will be to know that all the electricity in the house is running though proper channels, also not showering in the dark will be a bonus.  Living in Canada can be a real pain during winter when the electricity isn't working, it gets too dark too fast to get anything done!

So as Jeremy wrestles with drilling holes in seriously old hard wood, I start to pull up the floor in the kitchen... dun dun dun, the defining moment!  We have planned this renovation since day one when we pulled the carpet from the living room and found extremely well preserved gorgeous wood floors.  We knew they would carry throughout  the house, and damn were we stoked.  So with a heart full of optimism and a mind full of 'shabby sheak country kitchen'  the battle for the floor began....

  • Layer one: lino circa 1990's 
  • Layer two: particle board circa 1990's
  • Layer three: lino circa 1945 - 1950
  • Layer four: sticky glue possibly made of tar
  • Layer five: a lot of black crap
  • Layer six: ENDLESS BLACK SH*T!

One of many spots filled with plaster, averaging a quarter inch deep

I spent 4 hours on hands and knees scraping with a 4 inch metal drywall knife one of these past days (so far the best tool, and yes I even tried an attachement for the resiprocating saw, too sticky).   Jeremy came home from work and asked what I had done all day... I didn't stop ranting for a good 20 minutes, it went something like this: 

"LOOK AT THIS! No, come and look.  See. See. Hahaha, I think I may be loosing my mind to this floor.  Damnit get down here and look.  I've been in this spot for 4 bloody hours and this is it!  Oh my gosh, I totally zoned out I haven't even cleared off 5 square feet! This is ridiculous (tool throw)!  Ugh, well maybe I'll just try another spot..... Ahhhhhhhhhhh (explicit swear words telling a floor where to go and how to get there)"

How we found the living room floors
Floors in the kitchen after 14 hours of labour.

So it is with a heavy heart I regret to say I have decided to scrap the original kitchen floor.  My heart is literally breaking, I wanted this so badly.  This renovation has been completed in my mind for over a year and I always saw these floors.... I based all my design decisions up to this point on the restoration of these floors.  But it just cannot be done, not because I haven't the tenacity but because the floors themselves are in just too poor of condition, so many broken boards and splintered holes.  Spending another week on hands and knees is a waste of time and effort (snif).  We didn't even really have a plan B for this eventuality.  Every time I walk into the room I take a look at the floor and start thinking... maybe just if I... But it must end here, not everything is going to work out the way we want but damn I'm sad.  Tonight we are going to yank out the boards and start prepping for tile.

In other news we had a friend of ours come in and texture the ceiling in the living room and kitchen.  He did a great job and we learned a lot from him (don't you just hate it when you learn that you have been doing something the hard way for years?).  The kitchen should have enough light in it, 1 light above the sink, 2 pendents over the island, and 4 pot lights.  Well I suppose if the floor can't go the whole way at least the ceiling does.

The race has been on since just after Christmas!  We have been racing to the renovation 'finish' with some friends of ours back in B.C.  So just over a month and here is where Steve and Robyn find themselves:

They decided to remove two walls on their main floor and turn their U shaped (extremely small) kitchen into a open concept living space.

As with any renovation they had some surprises.  No insulation, construction garbage in the walls, and general head scratching WTF moments.  Both Steve and Robyn work and they have two kids, and they had to live in the construction....   How the heck did they get so far so fast!  I have a couple of theroys but so not to appear as a bitter cow I'll keep them to myself hahaha.

I's a huge difference and a great reno.  I'm so beyond jealous I should really just end this damn post.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Window Phobia

Living Room Before
 So, basically when I finished writing my last post Jeremy put a 2x4 through the back window of his new truck... Hahaha, it's funny now but at the time his devastation was morbid.  I'm so happy it wasn't me who did it because I would probably be divorced or dead in a ditch.  Long story short he was able to locate a replacement and get it installed promptly, which was good considering the raging blizzard.  Accidents are bound to happen when you take on such massive demolition.  One window is not too bad since we took 14 loads to the dump.  Although it has made Jeremy extremely window shy.  Seriously he won't let me load the truck, and I didn't even do it!

Living room before.
Nothing is ever simple.  I remember when we first bought the house, the conversation was so positive and optimistic.

"We could remove this wall and extend the kitchen, it would really be simple and so effective".

Translation: "We need to move this wiring, oh hey look we have a built in vacuum here, oh sh*t the chimney sticks out here, hmmm, I don't think that wire goes anywhere, OUCH, damn it's live.... well... We should crack a beer and think about this a little more.  This thermostat has five wires coming out of it, but there are only three in the basement, wonder where those went?"

"Oh yeah, all new drywall completely fresh start.  Green for sure would work awesome with this room!"

Translation: "I hate drywall... Hey there used to be a window here, wonder if they... nope no insulation,  No wonder that draft was so bad, hey look no insulation here either.  Another random wire... Awe f*ck it's live too!"

"We could put in a great ceiling here with a beam and some natural stone, Ohhhh and some pendant lighting above an island".

Translation: "More blown in insulation! Ugh *beep* *beeping* mother *beeper*".
Kitchen wall into living room, before.

In all reality we knew there would be issues, it just never seams like a huge deal until your elbows deep in a sea of insulation, and more stuff needs to be done before the next thing.  A 'simple' kitchen renovation turns into a raging storm of demotion and a reallocation of energy into projects you didn't even knew existed.  But with endless tenacity and an insurmountable extenuation of stick-to-itve-ness we completed the demolition.

Wall gone between kitchen and living room.
Living room to kitchen.

I swear Jeremy has almost reached the end of his sanity.  I took 3 videos of him running wire, playing with floor demo, and scooping blown in.  None of them are fit for the public.  But he seems to persevere (that's why I love this guy).  The kids are coping well enough parenting themselves.  Payton came to the construction area the other day and sat in my lap for a good half hour... poor kid, I gave her a chocolate and sent her on her way.
New insulation... drywall ready... I think so.
So the list of things to do is neither shrinking nor growing we're just switching things out.  But the inevitability of completion is a looming reality.

We are having a race with some friends of ours back home in B.C. and everyday I shake my head at our optimism at the beginning of these endeavors.  We won't even be in the same month as them.  There are too many jobs to list at this point, but we are making progress daily.