I recently lived through the last serious renovation to my house. (Serious to me means using my Sicilians, the contractors I have been calling on and off since buying my little house in 2002.) Kitchen and bathroom — done! Living and dining room — finished! Basement — check! I thought I was finished with renovating forever (although, are you ever really done?) until some saggy beaming and an even saggier roof on my detached garage meant I would need to have one last reno in me. Considering the cost of parking in downtown Toronto, and the inconvenience of street parking, saving my garage was now a priority. (You can see the full before and after in our June 2015 issue, on stands now, plus watch a tour on Online TV.)
I was a little out of practice, but then I realized — like all my renos before — there was a process and I just had to get back at it. The first step is the easy part, a little like love at first sight. You see something you like the looks of and you're a goner. I had a lovely inspiration shot (above) of a kitchen that I kept looking back at (and couldn't replicate in my house), so my garage was the next best place to use it as inspiration. I love that it's painted white, has lots of character, Shaker cabinetry, crisp painted floors and an old banged-up work table. If my garage could end up looking anything like this, I'd be thrilled.
The second step is the hard one, less about inspiration and more about frustration. My dark and dismal garage had a long way to go. Not only would it need lots of construction work and several coats of white paint to become the bright, airy space I wanted, it also needed to be completely emptied of all its contents. My solution was a portable ShelterLogic garage (below) that I could set up in my backyard and fill with everything from the permanent garage. Just imagine a gigantic tent that fills your entire backyard. No backyard entertaining last summer. No grass this summer.
The last steps included planning and putting back together. I needed to keep my parking spot, natch. But also wanted the multi-est of multi-use spaces. Crafting, storage, recycling bins, tools, gardening supplies and ladders all had to look good enough that I could throw the doors open for laneway sales. (I have an online store called Found with fellow H&H editor Morgan Michener.) And if I wanted it to be attractive like my original inspiration shot, I needed to figure out some things not typically seen in garage systems (dare I use the dreaded term Man Cave, because that is what most garage systems look like). Thank goodness for Ikea. Here's a peek at some of the tricks I used.
Hooks are perfect for hanging ladders out of the way, but also come in handy for hanging throw blankets at our laneway sales.
The sliding barn door in front of the recycling and garbage not only hides the unsightly bins, but creates a long deep shelf for more storage and a separate seating area, great for displaying our cushions for sale.
Open shelving above the cabinets means items are on display and easy to access. But lower cabinets store everything from a sewing machine and mitre saw to craft and packing supplies, hardware and garden tools. Every drawer is filled.
Lastly, a great old drafting table (a gift from H&H style editor Stacey Smithers) provides another work surface solely dedicated to gardening and potting (and keeps my bigger crafting table clean). Plus, it folds down to save space when not in use.
So now that the pain of the reno is over, not only do I feel more organized than ever, but I'm back to loving the look — pleased that I got as close to the inspiration shot as I did.
We never really set out to renovate our bathroom.
And yet here we are with a new space that feels as breezy and fresh as a whitewashed summer cottage. A crisp white vanity is a definite upgrade on the old one (see 'before' photos below), and its style is echoed by the sweet shelf/towel bar — which also lets me have a display spot in this relatively utilitarian space. The big 12" x 24" slate floor tiles from Creekside Tile are chic and outdoorsy. The palest sky blue — Borrowed Light (235) by Farrow & Ball — on the walls is a bit more playful and vintage-y than white, and it's contrasted by the warm plum tone of the drapes in the hall outside. H&H senior design editor Sarah Hartill, who coordinated this charming makeover, finished the look off with some pretty flowers.
So how'd we get here?
Our bathroom was a small addition to our house, completed just 10 or 15 years ago by the previous owners, so it functioned fairly well — and it wasn't as dated as the adjoining kitchen. (It has a large, walled-in shower stall at one end, which we left as is.)
But in renovating the kitchen (featured in our March 2015 issue), we decided to run the new slate kitchen floor right into the bathroom — a natural choice because the two spaces were connected without a threshold, and it would have almost been harder to maintain the old bathroom floor than jackhammer it out when we were ripping out the kitchen floor.
In the process, our old vanity got banged up, and my husband, Scott, and I decided we'd replace our toilet with a low-flow version while it was removed from the room for the installation of the new slate floor.
The new vanity is outfitted with smart see-through Godmorgon inserts and organizers from Ikea, which helps keep this hard-working family bathroom operating smoothly.
A tailored linen blind (Sarah had it made by Tonic Living) replaced a fussy (and really hard to clean) plastic slat blind.
Because it was an unplanned expenditure, Sarah and I tried to keep the budget low and the look simple and timeless. We chose clean-lined white pieces, and just a few accents to add character.
Here's a list of what we used in the transformation:
Construction, installation, contracting, Ikea Installation Services; Hemnes/Rättviken sink cabinet with two drawers, Ensen faucet, Musik wall lamp, Ronglan mirror, Kolja mirror, Hjälmaren towel hanger/shelf, Savern steel lidded trash basket, drawer inserts, towels, flowerpot, garbage can, soap dish, towel hook (background), Ikea; trim and ceiling colour, Wimborne White (239), Farrow & Ball; drape fabric (background), blind fabric, drape and blind sewing, Tonic Living; painting, Vintage Fine Objects; toilet, Kohler.
1, 3, 5. Ashley Capp
2, 4. Katie Hayden
More than a month since my Part 1 post, and you’d think my tiny galley kitchen would be complete with a set of pretty after photos. Not so. The kitchen at our new place, which I have dubbed #Austinsuite on Twitter and Instagram, is at a plateau. Let me bring you up to speed on our progress.
Right after cabinet demo, this tile ugliness had to go. This mottled pinkish, greyish, bluish, texture tile covered the kitchen and entry floor. Ew. The result was a meeting of several disharmonious flooring materials as you entered our suite (right). Granted, the bathroom door (visible on the left in the photo on the right) would usually be closed (a pact I made with my husband, since when it’s open, the view is straight to the toilet — horror!). Alas, flooring disharmony is a personal design pet peeve of mine, especially in small spaces. The tile was ripped up and down went old school parquet in the kitchen and entry to match the rest of the suite.
Then I painted it all white. Here’s the view from the bathroom, across the entry to the kitchen after one coat of floor primer. Better already. More on the painted floors in a future blog post.
Way back in mid June, Ikea installed our Applåd cabinets in a single day. They were in place and ready so that when we moved in, I could unpack right into them — no delays. Perfect. There was only one minor hiccup. Here’s what happened.
You may recall that my plans called for a paneled fridge (as in the photo at left) and that I had some bulkheads to contend with (right). I wanted the fridge gable to be notched out around the bulkhead and continue right to the ceiling. When I met on site with the installer to discuss this, he talked me out of it. He was sure the bulkhead surface would be uneven, making the end-panel cut look sloppy. And he though that end of the kitchen would feel too crowded. He had a point so I took his advice.
This was the result. I knew right away it was wrong. Bummer. When stuff like this happens, you have to sit with it for a bit: Am I being too picky to want it changed? I decided to wait until the fridge was on site before my final decision. The fridge did not change my opinion. It still looked off-kilter and I knew it would drive me nuts.
Et voila! Fixed and so much better, don’t you think? Honestly I can feel the difference physically — it’s like I breathe easier. Note also the large fluorescent ceiling fixture from the previous photo had also been banished in favour of a sleek mod Ikea Bave LED ceiling track and LED under-cabinet strip lights. Note also the makeshift cabinet pulls fashioned from painter’s tape. That’s how it looks to this day as I remain undecided on hardware and won’t settle for just anything. (Perhaps you feel my husband’s pain in dealing with my uncompromising nature?)
And speaking of my uncompromising nature, may I present the hole where our range will one day be, God and Bosch willing. You see, being a member of the press, I was privy to a sneak peek of a brand new slide-in induction range made by Bosch (makers of the existing laundry appliances I already loved in the space). When you go to a press event, the people hosting hope you will write about their products. They don’t expect you to say “I love it. I want to buy one. How soon can I get it?” Their answer was “great” and "end of June." The current projected range delivery date is set for this month. I love induction cooking. I already had to compromise on my original plan for a wall oven with induction cooktop above due to the electrical wiring limitations of our suite. An induction slide-in range is the next best plan and they are very rare birds in Canada.
I am convinced this Bosch beauty will be worth the wait. But just so you feel the full effect of my decision, no range means the counter can’t be templated: no kitchen sink and faucet, no dishwasher. Also, since my laundry is in this area and the water is turned off, no laundry. It’s summer. No laundry is killing me. My husband and I have a hot date at a local laundromat tonight. Perhaps you feel his pain even more now?
In other appliance news, here’s my cute fridge. It’s by Blomberg. I got it at Caplan’s in Toronto and it’s a slim 22in wide. It sits here totally naked waiting for a skilled carpenter to make it some custom panels since my cabinet installers reneged on their original agreement to make this part of the cabinet install. I have placed a call to another guy who was recommended by a colleague. No call back. Here’s where I insert my plug for hiring a designer to handle your kitchen reno.
You see, finding skilled pros and managing them is a full-time job. I have a full-time job already; it’s hard to get this stuff sorted when you are busy at work. In other disappointing fridge news, it’s not working particularly well. I have reset the temps. No luck. Blurgh. Call is in to Caplan’s. My fridge is like a lazy supermodel — it’s tall, skinny and naked and doesn’t work much.
My Bosch custom panel dishwasher is sitting in my dining room minding its own business waiting for the range/counter/water to be turned on/elusive custom panel maker. Bless my Bosch dishwasher.
So, like I was saying, it’s a plateau….
We are underway with our upstairs reno and one thing we've already finished is the small guest bathroom.
This is what it looked like a few months ago. I still love the vintage sink that I got at a yard sale over 15 years ago but it was too low and rusted, so I had to get rid of it. Plus the trad shape really didn't work with the mix I have going on in the rest of the house. I wound up giving it to a friend of mine who's in the middle of a Victorian historic restoration so it will be right at home.
The other thing I had to get rid of was the glass-block window — way too '80s for me.
But the highlight for me is the new wallpaper, Ocelot from Farrow & Ball. That and the new sash window instantly transformed the room. I framed the window in 6"-wide lengths of marble for a polished look that tied in with the floor.
Only one thing left to decide and that is whether or not to paint the tub black. I'm on the fence... what do you think?
These are the befores of the kitchen in our new condominium suite in Toronto. At first glance it's not too offensive: white cabinets, tile floors, gleaming stainless steel appliances and in-suite laundry right there too. And yet I found offense. In fact, I liked exactly two things about this space: the fact that it is a galley (the most efficient kitchen layout) and the existing Bosch laundry machines. Everything else had to go.
This is what the space looks like today. A blank (but not so clean) slate. My vision is a sleek white-on-white high-efficiency space. I actually designed and priced out the whole thing before we even submitted our offer so that we had a ballpark idea of how much we'd need to mentally add to the offer price to get it to what we wanted (er, what I wanted). Here's the scoop on some of my plans.
My first source of inspiration for the new design was my own current kitchen in our mid-century bungalow. I love the Ikea Applåd cabinets and knew immediately I would choose the same style again. The flat panel door style is modern and easy to keep clean. I have found in the past that grease and nastiness can gather on raised panel doors so I've sworn off them. I also love the low-sheen finish of the Applåd as opposed to the high-gloss surfaces of many flat-panel doors. I'm so much more a matte girl than a high-gloss girl.
Because our new space has bulkheads, I'm taking inspiration from the kitchen in Suzanne Dimma's basement and opting for horizontal uppers in a neat row. I seriously toyed with the idea of not having uppers at all, but then decided that was pure madness in a kitchen this tiny. It really only works when there's room for a tall pantry cupboard. Suzanne's kitchen also happens to be IKEA Applåd, which she chose after asking me about my kitchen and then the two of us waxing on together about gloss vs matte. Just another day at the H&H office!
When I was researching tiny white kitchens I also fell for this one in Spain. So simple, so sleek and with a dishwasher (left of sink) and fridge (foreground) that disappear behind custom panels. These became musts for me.
And here's my design. This is the umpteenth kitchen I have designed and every time I do it the same old-school way — graph paper and pencil. I do use the Ikea kitchen planning tool on the website — but mostly because I love that it automatically generates a shopping list I can take into the store. Total time-saver! Someday I vow to learn how to do perspective renderings, but for now these flat elevations work just fine.
And here it is, my kitchen (and the dishwasher is in there too) ready to be assembled and installed tomorrow and Friday. My excitement level is off the charts. Partly, of course, because I'm entrusting the job to Ikea installation services. Now, don't get me wrong, you know I love some DIY and I know how to work an Allen key, but the guys who do this stuff everyday — man, they are good! So fast and so good with the finessing of the details. I say this as someone who has actually done kitchen install the DIY way (our first kitchen) and who has entrusted the job to a contractor who was not an Ikea specialist. I've lived, I've learned and I'm not doing either of those things again.
A little while back I crowd-sourced my countertop choice on Instagram. I have HanStone quartz now and love it, so I thought I'd get that same colour, which is called Aurora Snow (seen at bottom left in this photo). But then I grabbed a few more samples and got thinking the choice wasn't quite so easy. I posted this pic knowing the top one was my fave and my husband's fave. It was the winner of the social media survey and even earned a vote from Sarah Richardson. It's not everyday you get free design advice from a world-famous designer, but when you get it, take it!
The other day I also posted the three tiles that made the short list for our backsplash. On the left is an Applåd drawer front, and the small square is the winning counter sample, HanStone in Royale Blanc. On the right from top:
3" ceramic hex tiles in a random mix of matte and glossy finishes from CeraGres; 3" Calacatta marble hex in polished finish from Saltillo; 2" x 4" Calacatta marble brick tile in honed finish from Saltillo.
We're going with the Calacatta hex to add a fun, slightly retro shape to the space. Also, the bathroom shower has hex tile so now the two rooms will relate.
Our basement makeover is finally complete and has resulted in a home office/den that is neat, clean (somewhat), water resilient, all for under $4,000. Here are some things I learned after my husband and I revamped our basement.
Lesson 1: A basement is a great place to experiment with a new look.
Suzanne Dimma pointed out in a recent blog that it's far more exciting when the individual rooms in a house are approached with their own unique decorating personality: not every room requires the exact same materials and palette. This Belgian-farmhouse look is a bit austere for a heavily used room, but it's practical in a basement. I took a chance with the floor and it's turned out to be my favourite thing. I was worried about the frank fakeness — it's vinyl — but this can stand up to future flooding and looks real (it is cold though, so a rug was a necessity.)
A giant bookcase lines one side of the room (not surprising for two journalism grads). I loved Morgan Michener's April 2014 DIY which involved backing bookshelves in fabric. So I combined that with something I had seen in an earlier version of House & Home: Colette van den Thillart's dining room from the December 2012 issue.
Colette's laser-printed, photo-realism quartz wallpaper on velvet turned her Toronto dining room into an exotic grotto, and I was completely slayed. I thought why not use a combo of Morgan and Colette's ideas for the back of bookshelf?
I found this geo-stone look wallpaper that was in a neutral colourway and pasted it to a sample board. The results? It makes everything in front of it look epic. Too bad it made the maple bookcases look anemic.
Lesson 2: Test a trend.
I am not a grey person. I wasn't sure whether I loved the grey paint I chose for the bookshelves, or just the fact that it's a big trend colour and I had been seeing it in the magazine (Rona Collection's Taupe, an almost exact match, was called out as one of our trend colours in the January 2014 issue). To find out whether I could live with it, a sample board was crucial so I could see the shade against the floors, wainscotting and stone of the fireplace. The warm neutral added the right amount of richness, and the glossy finish looks freshly painted, I love that.
Of course I keep an exhaustive library of back issues of House & Home (doesn't everybody?). It's the original source of inspiration, long before Pinterest popped up.
Lesson 3: Don't let a room become a dumping ground for memorabilia.
Take the time to reevaluate what's on your bookshelves — not everything stands the test of time, while some items are still a joy to behold (I didn't even know we owned a rare 1936 issue of Alice in Wonderland, look how pretty it is).
Lesson 4: No one wants to spend time in a neglected room.
In addition to my home office, there was an antique desk that could be used for some (bad) sewing projects, and even a spot to do yoga, but I didn't want to spend time in an outdated space filled with odds and ends doing those activities. The busy woodwork and clutter just wasn't conducive to concentrating, but here's how the honey-pine corner of my office was transformed with paint.
The linen sheep-print fabric adds some life to the neutral scheme and makes a home office a bit fun, while concealing glass doors to a workshop behind. I just wish my desk always looked like this...
A textured basket for, ahem, fitness equipment that doesn't see the light of day, and an earthy pouf add a warm, handmade touch that's inviting.
I've decided that flood was the best thing that could have happened to this room. It made me take a hard look at the things I was saving, and created a soothing space to unwind... or work, or maybe even, work out.
See a gallery of editors' basement renos here.
We have almost completed our Belgian-Inspired Budget Basement reno that followed the flood this winter. I just wanted to put up a quick post about something that's made the most dramatic change for our basement. I know painting out wood trim is a popular – and controversial – question from our readers. Lynda and Suzanne get asked about it all the time; painting wood is relatively easy but if you have regrets, stripping and refinishing is a nasty job (Suzanne weighs in on this topic in this video).
For those of you who agonize over painting, I humbly offer this evidence. The left half of the room is painted out in Benjamin Moore's Edgecomb Gray, and the other side is the original knotty pine wainscotting I am guessing dates back to when Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears wore matching acid-wash denim.
In this case, the inexpensive pine panelling looked cheap, busy and dated. H&H design editors have always firmly fall into the camp of painting wood, unless it is special or exotic (ie. mahogany, rosewood).
As soon as we painted the trim, the wainscotting immediately looked crisper, more substantial and distinctive.
I never liked the flimsy louvered doors, but now they almost seem to disappear, and all it took was an afternoon of spray painting and a new pull from Anthropologie.
Can't wait to show you the final reveal, stay tuned!
The flood last summer knocked out our power for four days but we were lucky; while some friends were knee-deep in brackish water, we had minimal leakage in our basement. Until the latest round of thawing snow did us in. It was obvious our basement carpet couldn't survive another soaking, so my husband tore it up only to reveal this:
Horrified? So were we.
The only thing more disturbing than the satanic red-and-black linoleum tile is the possibility that the builder thought it was a great idea to install the same tile in a number of houses in our post-war neighbourhood (our neighbour has it in his bathroom).
With the carpet gone it was time to take a good look at the honey-brown pine wainscotting, trim and mantel that I felt zero love for.
Inspired by a new gallery of our design editors' own basement renos, I gathered the meaningful finds that I wanted to keep in the basement as a source for the palette. These included my grandmother's skating trophy.
A vintage photo of my hometown.
And a chair I found in an antique mall while visiting a friend in Ohio. (She's a frequent visitor to the Maumee Antique Mall, a great source of quilts and vintage fabrics.)
The elements seemed to have a bit of Belgian farmhouse aesthetic so I looked for a greyed, weathered (water-resistant!) barn-style vinyl plank floor and a greige to paint out the wainscotting and trim.
After lots of close calls that were too green or cold, I found the perfect warm putty from Benjamin Moore: Edgecomb Grey.
This colour works with the tones in the stone fireplace, and has a hit of black for the right amount of gravitas.
Belgian farmhouses typically have lots of linen, but I wanted something a less dour than a tone-on-tone solid. I had this pastoral linen print made into pinch-pleat, lined drapes by Tonic Living (the price was really good, they turned the sewing around quickly and the drapes were well made).
The terracotta tiles on the hearth didn't work with the colour scheme, or the custom-made English firescreen that served as a headboard for several years.
But these 18" x 18" grey marble slabs for the hearth from Lowe's are appropriately rustic, and wallet-friendly.
For a bit of colour and graphic impact, this rug from HomeSense fit the bill for under $150.
We hope to get this room whipped into shape fairly quickly so stay tuned for the final reveal of what I call our budget Belgian basement blitz.
See budget basement decorating tips in this gallery.
Our kitchen is finally done! It has been a long road through the biggest renovation of our lives. It wasn’t easy — especially at dinnertime — but the final product is well worth all of the work. In fact, our new kitchen is even better than we could have dreamed of, thanks to AyA Kitchens and Baths.
See below for photos of the new space. Plus, tour our kitchen in an episode of H&H Online TV.
We are thrilled with how open our kitchen is now. Our son has been running laps around the island and is enjoying all of the freedom this new space provides. (And I like being able to keep an eye on him while I’m making dinner.)
The cabinets are what really pulls this whole space together. The dark grey colour is exactly what we were looking for, and I love how they stand out against the white walls and accessories.
Remember how cluttered our old kitchen was? (Read about it here.)
We now have tons of storage space, including a few lift-up features to hide some of our smaller appliances.
Above is the first appliance lift-up cabinetry that hides the microwave. A few years down the road, if we no longer need our microwave, we can still utilize this space for additional storage.
Here is our second lift-up that houses the toaster and blender. Both of these small appliances used to be eyesores on our counter, taking up valuable preparation space. Now they are tucked away and ready for use whenever we need them.
Our AyA designer, Sandra, was so helpful throughout the entire process, especially when it came to space planning and flow. As you can see, we also have a lot more usable counter space. The island alone provides us with more counter space than we ever had before. I love how much built-in storage we have now.
Last, but not least, is the banquette. The handsome drawers below the seat cushions look so sleek — you’d never know that they’re housing small appliances, linens and other kitchen items. And because I love to bake, I now have plenty of specialty pans and tools that are easy to reach.
Our kitchen was once a cluttered space that wasn’t functional for our busy family. Now, we have a beautiful kitchen that we can’t wait to use. We couldn’t be happier!
The day has finally come! A big truck from AyA Kitchens and Baths arrived earlier this week and dropped off dozens of boxes containing the components for our new kitchen. Seeing all those boxes makes me feel like a kid on Christmas morning (except this time, I know exactly what these pretty packages contain: our dream kitchen!). Take a look.
After some major unwrapping, the installation commenced. In renovations past, my husband has always been the one to take on installations — he is incredibly handy and loves DIY projects. But for a renovation of this magnitude, we opted to have AyA’s team of installation professionals do the work. And with all the tasks still ahead — installing every cabinet, fixture, shelf and design detail — it was money well spent.
Pictured above is the wall where our fridge and stove will go. We opted to leave the upper wall completely open, except for any cabinets that are above the counter — those will now go to the ceiling. Although it might not look like it just yet, we are going to have a lot more storage than we did in our old kitchen.
This is my first view of the banquette and it looks amazing so far! It feels so much bigger than what I expected. Plus, all of those boxes beneath the bench contain drawers for even more storage: I plan to keep platters, linens and small appliances I don’t use everyday in here.
While the AyA team tackles the installation, there are still plenty of details for us to sort out, such as ordering countertops, backsplash and hardware, and choosing a few other design details. We chose Caesarstone’s Frosty Carinna for the counterops. It's the shade closest to the marble I had originally loved, and has beautiful grey veining that works well with the dark grey anthracite cabinets. Our designer, Sandra, coordinated this part of the renovation, receiving the quote and organizing the date to have our countertops templated and installed.
Next on my shopping list was the backsplash. Since we have very few cabinets above the counter, I decided that the backsplash would go as far up the wall as possible on the oven and sink walls. As I mentioned in my last post, I love the look of marble, mosaics and solid slabs. The final choice, however, ended up being something I hadn’t even considered: a 2” x 2” milk glass tile that will be installed in a diamond pattern. Here is a shot of what we selected:
I think the white shade will keep the space feeling open, and it's something different than subway tiles, which we already have in our laundry room and bathroom.
As for the hardware, I knew we wanted to go with brass. The only decision to be made was whether to choose something rough and antique looking, or something shiny. Here are the two options we considered. The antique-style is shown above.
And this is the shiny style. We ended up going with the antique-look fixtures (we liked that they didn’t have visible screws) in a polished brass finish, to add a hit of glamour to our kitchen.
To replicate the cosy banquette inspiration shot I had in my initial plans, I had a custom cushion and back made to run the full length of the bench. I am already envisioning the late-night coffees or Sunday brunches we’ll have in this fun space. To make it more visually interesting and comfortable, I also had throw pillows made in complementary colours. We opted for outdoor fabric, since it will be more durable over the long run. (In other words, it will hold up better against grimy kids’ hands and inevitable spills.)
After browsing through hundreds of samples, this grouping stood out as the clear winner for our kitchen. I love the combination of yellow and grey.
Now that our dream AyA kitchen is almost complete, I’m excited to put together all the finishing touches. I can hardly wait to see the big reveal!
1-4,7. Jennifer Mader