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.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Blizzard of Demolition

Just when I thought it was over it is actually only just beginning.  Happy New Year to all, by the way.  It's new years day today and we kicked off 2015 with a sledge hammer.  December was no joke either.  between Christmas concerts, dinners and decorations we started the main floor demo and floor plan.  First we had to remove the door and build the new walkway between the stairwell (our old bedroom) and the living room.  I must mention now that the layers of this house must make up for half the damn insulation!  Seriously once we started to take off the layers it became abundantly clear that this demolition was going to be the biggest of all.
Door into stairwell: before

  • Layer One: Panel board
  • Layer Two: 1/4 inch plywood
  • Layer Three: Weird textured 'wallpaper'
  • Layer Four: Old crumbly dusty dirty drywall.
We are gaining an inch to the whole room just by taking down all this crap.  I haven't even told you about the ceiling (about as bad as the walls...).  

The Onion House

Completed Walkthrough
The fun continued when we invited some friends over for dinner, with ulterior motives of hanging a particularly painful piece of drywall... So how many men does it take, three.  Yep three.

Jeremy, Bryce, and Clint

It may have been the wine, but damn did I laugh.
 So Christmas went of without too much drywall dust getting into the chip dip, but there is no rest for the DIY renovators.  The time had come.  It was time to throw in the towel get out of the mess and get er' done.  Time to move.

 As you may have noticed I'm gung ho and ready to rip in the video ( I actually had to do another take because the first was a bunch of whooping and swearing).  Now what I didn't film were the tears of loss as I packed up my beautiful and peaceful studio.  All sewing and tranquility has left the building.  We had been preparing for this day pretty much as soon as the ink was dry on the ownership papers.  But nothing could really prepare us for the reality of living in a house of 400 square feet with 2 adults (who both really enjoy their space, hence the house, studio, shop setup we've been working on for two f-ing years), and 2 kids (little whirl winds of crumbs and any projectile toy they can find or build).  But the food is drywall free... even if it is cooked in a microwave.
Living in such a small space is challenging but also strangely satisfying.  Everything is always clean and tidy.  There are no doors to close or corners to hide things in.  It took a couple days to get everything in it's place to really make everything run smoothly, but so far so good.  That said I can't wait to have the big house back.

Half a kitchen.
The day after we moved we took a trip to Edmonton, Alberta in search of most of the makings for a new kitchen... During boxing week.  I can't even start to tell the horror stories of shopping, it's just too fresh.  Yet we came out with a good deal and half a kitchen.  The other half is on order and will be here within the month. 

We have accepted a challenge from our friends back in B.C. (Steve and Robyn).  They are also ripping out their kitchen and a wall (or two, I'm not positive of the details), So its a race to the finish.  I doubt we will win because our demo is becoming more and more complicated as we 'progress' (blown in insulation in particular in the entire ceiling). 

But for now I'll let the photos tell the tale.

The layers are unbelievable.

After the cabnets were removed we finally had confirmation of the wood floors under the entire kitchen.  This was thrilling to say the least since we had planned the entire renovation around this one unknown.

  • Layer One: Lino
  • Layer Two: Sub floor
  • Layer Three: More lino
  • Layer Four: Back breaking scarping of the floor to remove ground in glue while somehow preserving the existing wood floors.  Ugh.

So all in all the demolition is in full swing and the blizzard outside is a nightmare but the dump is open and weather waits for no one.