Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Project Headboard - Revealed!

I posted about the transformation of my garage sale headboard previously...

Here's how it looks now that it's in place.
I'd like to replace the Ikea wall mounted light fixture on the right side of the photograph with something prettier but quite honestly, it's quite practical for reading.
And yes, it's a small room, but ya gotta work with what ya got.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I'm In Love

...with my new gas stove.

As part of our kitchen renovation, we replaced all the old appliances. This is a luxury I've never experienced before, but because they were clearly 20+ years old, the time was right.

This is our old stove/kitchen.

I actually had a better photo of the stove at one time because I posted a "free stove" ad on Kijiji. I must have deleted it as I wanted no further connection with it. When we bought the house let's just say the previous owners could have been a little more attentive to cleanliness. We must have spent two hours cleaning it. I think I avoided using it at all for the first two months out of pure contempt.

Anyway, we knew it had to go. And finally, we had the opportunity to get a gas stove. Working for a natural gas company for the past four years further fueled (excuse the pun) my desire for a gas stove.

And here's my new beauty. It's a Blue Star 30" stove. We hadn't heard of Blue Star, but when we saw it at Costco I started researching the company and reviewing customer ratings. It has the largest internal dimensions of any residential stove on the market (fits two cookie sheets side-by-side), and it has powerful burner. Plus, he's a beauty. When we picked it up, the Costco Manager said "you're getting a great deal on this stove, my wife and I bought a Garland stove a couple of years ago and it's really the same stove for less than half the price".

Best of all, our new stove lives up to his reputation...he's powerful and hard working, while being sensitive and to my sauces. He's also lightening quick and responsive.

I just LOVE my new stove. So much so, I'd find it hard to ever go back to electric.

He's a brute though -- a fact we weren't completely aware of until it came time to bring it in the house. A forklift had deposited it (still on it's skid), in the back of our trailer. We transported it home, and wheeled it right up to our front stairs. Then there was the question of how to get it up the final two stairs and into the house. Fortunately, we had a moving dolly and two strong men. Despite our apparent advantages, Mr. BlueStar put up quite a fight. After a great deal of huffing and puffing, heaving and grunting (and suggestions to call professional movers the next day), Mr.BlueStar finally made his way to the kitchen (still enveloped in his protective bubble wrap).

Here he is in-situ. And partially disrobed. You'll need to wait for my kitchen reno post to get the Full Monty.

Can Toilets Be Interesting?

As part of our basement renovations and development, we added a new 3 piece bathroom, complete with all new fixtures.

While shopping for all things plumbing/fixture-related I started thinking about our upstairs bathroom (see photo). We have plans for this bathroom in the future -- i.e. moving the toilet over a little toward the wall, boxing-in the plumbing stack (!), repainting the walls, and replacing the flooring).

In the meantime, the existing toilet is an on-again, off-again leaky water glutton (13 ltrs) and the City of Calgary's rebate program (for switching to a low-flow model) was an added incentive to make the switch now.

I've long been a fan of the Vintage bathroom style, which I think is in keeping with the age of the house, and compliments our existing clawfoot tub and pedestal sink.

Ultimately I selected Kohler's Memoir Series, round-front, comfort height toilet. It has a solid chrome flusher, and I gotta say the comfort height makes a difference!. And, it's low water consumption (particularly when compared with the glutton), has a feel-good factor.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wash and Dare

Like many people, I've never had a proper laundry room. In our previous home (of 15 years) the washer, dryer and laundry sink were in our unfinished basement. The floor was concrete, the walls were concrete blocks, and the overhead light fixture was an industrial-type fluorescent number.

Over the years I've thought about what it would be like to have a proper laundry room (or at least an attractive laundry "zone"). Photos like these helped fuel the fantasy.

When we purchased our current home we knew that we would need to move the existing laundry area (at the bottom of the stairs) in order to create our basement family/media room. In doing so, we could create a new and attractive laundry zone. The new laundry zone would have to be accessed through the utility room, but we planned to drywall the space (walls and ceilings), improve the lighting, replace the window, add doors in front of the "mechanicals" and use cork-look vinyl flooring to pretty-it-up. It also meant that the dryer could be vented properly, and a laundry sink could be added.

Now here's the daring part (which I alluded to in the title of this post) -- we decided to paint the walls a vibrant turquoise colour. That's pretty unusual for us, as we're fairly traditional and it's not exactly an historical colour in keeping with the age of the house. But, it's the laundry room after all, and making it a cheerful space was Job 1.

So we selected Benjamin Moore's Ash Blue and crossed our fingers and dipped and brushed... though why they called it Ash Blue (which implies some kind of graying-down of the colour), I'll never know!

A work in progress

Now it's functional. I'll post again once I've figured out how to hide the dryer venting (a fabric sleeve perhaps?), installed some kind of overhead light fixture, and generally prettied-it-up.

Project Headboard

I came across this headboard at a garage sale. Not exactly the look I was going for, but it had "good bones". It also looked like it would be relatively easy to re-upholster. And, since I didn't have a headboard (and always wanted one), what did I have to lose by trying. (Answer: about $95 when all was said and done).

I found some fabric in the discount bin at my local Fabricland, along with some inexpensive cording (trim). My next stop was Canadian Tire where I purchased a relatively inexpensive electric staple gun (as I knew I couldn't do this by hand).

Step One involved separating the faux wood trim from the particle board/foam/upholstered board (as shown in the photo). Fortunately, that was easily done... it just involved the use of a cordless drill.

Next I grabbed my can of Fresh Start primer and set to work priming the "wood" trim. Then I gave it two coats of paint, and was time to get out the fabric and staple gun.

This required a little help (and became a Thanksgiving weekend project with my Sister and Mom). We laid out the new fabric on the living room floor and plunked the existing piece (still upholstered) right on top. We carefully, and evenly, stretched the fabric from side to side, stapl ing as we went. Next we stapled the cording to the (now painted) wood trim. The final step involved screwing the two pieces back together. Easy peasy.

Hubbie and brother-in-law grabbed their power drills and in no time flat this rescued beauty found a new home at the top of our bed.

Before the headboard

(The wall colour looks much darker than it actually is).

Then we added a cute little reading light (purchased at what is probably my favorite store in Calgary -- Honey B's, and my work was done.

Final after photos to follow once I re-charge my camera!)

This is what the room looked like when the house was owned by the previous owners (also no headboard):

Kitchen Cabinetry: Check

While we knew we wanted a traditional white kitchen, we still had to decide on lay-out and cabinetry design...

For that we turned to IKEA. In our minds, IKEA provides real value for money. Their cabinetry is good looking and warrantied for 25 yrs . It's also much less expensive than other suppliers since you have to assemble them yourself. Admittedly, that's no small feat. While I was able to look past the original kitchen to visualize the final look, I was virtually paralyzed by the assembly instructions. Fortunately I had some help.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Step 1 was coming up with a design. I downloaded IKEA's Kitchen Planning tool and set to work. I especially liked the 3D feature which allows you to see the finished design from all perspectives.

We quickly made the decision to eliminate the peninula that gave the kitchen a "C" shape and restricted the traffic flow.

We chose Lidingo (shown above) as our cabinet door style (mixing solid panel and glass panel fronts on the top cabinets) as we thought it would be the best choice -- architecturally-speaking -- with our 1913 house.

Kitchen Inspiration

In tackling the kitchen, we knew we would have many decisions to make: floor lay-out, cabinetry, flooring, countertops, appliances.

One thing I was pretty clear about was I wanted a white kitchen that complimented the age/character of our home (built in 1913). Fortunately, this meant we had high ceilings, and could stretch the cabinetry to expand storage space (provided the bulkheads could be removed).
I had been diligently cutting and saving magazine clippings, and sourced a number of photo ideas from the net including several blogs. I found this photograph of a gorgeous kitchen on an amazing and inspirational blog (see my must-read list):

So...Kitchen cabinet colour: check. Kitchen lay-out: to-do

Kitchens Sell Houses?

They say that kitchens sell houses. We may have bought this house, but it was most definitely NOT for the kitchen. Then again, may be it was.

The idea of HAVING to renovate the kitchen had a certain appeal as it meant we would be able to put our own stamp on it.

Everything would have to go:

- good-bye hideous light fixtures;
- adios worn vinyl flooring;
- sianara 1980s cabinetry and appliances;
- see ya later bulky bulkheads.

Most of all, we had to come up with a new lay-out since the awkward "C" shape trapped you in the fifth circle of hell, wedged between the dishwasher, stove and fridge.

A Lick of Paint Makes all the Difference

One of the first things we did when we bought the house was have it painted dark blue (Benjamin Moore's HC-154 (Hale Navy), with Ivory White(CC-130) trim. We hired professionals to do the outside, while we tackled every room in the house with the exception of the bathroom (as we're still trying to decide what to do with it) and the kitchen (which we knew we would be gutting).

I was thrilled to see how painting the area beneath the front bay window dark blue (instead of the white trim colour the previous owners used) significantly improved the look. We also repainted the front door a darker, richer red (it took three attempts to get the right, rich dark red colour, soI can't give you the colour number). We also replaced the bare light bulb with an actual porch light fixture, and installed shutters to visually widen the look of the house.

(Before shot -- prior to re-painting. Note the white space below the bay window).

Next spring we will replace the lattice railing and the wrought-iron hand rails with something more substantial looking. We also need to tackle refinishing/refacing the stairs and foundation in some way. So you'll have to wait for the after shots.

Quest for a House

Let's just say that buying a house in the Spring of 2008 probably wasn't our smartest-ever financial move. Of course, we didn't know that a global recession was a few months away, and we were unjustifiably smug in the knowledge that the Calgary real estate market had already peaked the previous summer, so we were getting a deal, right? Besides, we needed somewhere to live and didn't relish the idea of having to move once to temporary housing and again to a permanent home.

So, we were on-the-hunt. While hubbie favoured new (he'd endured two previous renovations), I was pining for an old fixer-upper. After two failed attempts at a house purchase, we finally scored this beauty (ok, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder). Yeesh you say. Well, once past the front door, things improved somewhat.

Besides, we knew we could improve the curb appeal, and were inspired by homes like these:

Friday, December 25, 2009

Potential diversion

But before we moved to Calgary, we explored a possible move to southwestern Ontario.

We were tempted by an 1885 house known in town as "the Doctor's House", and by an old church that had been converted to a house.

In the end, we decided that the job opportunities in the area were too limited.

Then I found a lovely white home not far from where we lived in Mississauga, but ultimately, it was too expensive, and too close to the train tracks.

In the Beginning

I've had a long standing facination with old homes, renovation and vintage design. I suppose it can be traced back to my childhood, when we lived in a small Samuel McClure-designed house in Victoria, BC. That house contained many of the features that fueled a romantic facination for old homes -- a fireplace in the dining room (as well as the living room), a claw foot tub, and a pull-down access hatch to the attic.

Growing-up, I watched This Old House with my parents and enjoyed re-arranging the furniture in my bedroom.

Later-on, my husband and I bought a early 1950s bungalow in Mississauga, Ontario. It didn't quite have the charm of the turn-of-the-century homes I loved, but the hardwood floors, crown mouldings and large windows were strong selling features. Then there was the yard which I slowly transformed over the years. First came the planting of rose bushes and clematis (in the new planter boxes my hubbie constructed), followed quickly by the installation of a fish pond. Later hubbie constructed a large concrete patio (which we colourized) and along with my brother-in-law, constructed a cedar walk-out deck. We lived in that home for 15 years and truly made it our own (renovating the kitchen, refinishing the floors, adding a walk-out to the backyard, and several landscaping projects.

Then, in 2008, the opportunity came to move to Calgary for my job. We were up for a change, and so began a new adventure...

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