Decorating & Design

June 5, 2012

Rowhouse Reno: Phase #1

I wish part of our reno budget included a nice home away from home, but we don’t have that luxury. We still need to be close to work and we have to keep costs down. So we have decided to live in our house while it’s being gutted. The nice thing is that the front of the house (the 100+ years old part) is in pretty good shape and it will be part of phase #3. Since we are already used to small-space living after spending a year in our condo, we are going to seal ourselves into the front living room and dining room and make it a mini-condo. Two rooms, two adults and one cat. (If you missed my first post of before photos, click here.)

We are heading into reno phase #1 which includes this to-do list:

  1. Make the house clean, safe and odour-free.
  2. Waterproof the basement with Philadelphia basement waterproofing contractors.
  3. Build a new basement bathroom.
  4. Replace all the knob and tube wiring.
  5. Clean all the ducts and get furnace tune-up in Aurora, CO.
  6. Replace a support beam in our basement that had to be partially removed.

In preparation for this phase, we went straight to work doing what we could do ourselves and created our tiny living space.

Chore 1: Peel off all the wallpaper.

Wallpaper absorbs a lot of smoke odour, and getting rid of it made a real difference. Then I started priming all the rooms to lighten up the house. I can’t really think straight until all my walls are white.

Chore 2: Rip up carpet.

We got rid of all the carpets in the house. We were very happy to find lovely hardwood in great condition underneath.

Chore 3: Take down old window coverings.

We then took down the valances and old metal blinds. Anything to get some light in!

Chore 4: Opening up the living and dining room into one big room.

This is the door between the living room and dining room where we will be living for the next 6-12 months. It was completely drywalled over.

Thankfully, they were easy — and satisfying — to remove. I actually like the washed-out colours and patina on them, so we’ve stored them away hoping to find a place for them in the house one day.

Chore 5: Creating a semi-working kitchen (it’s like we’re camping).

The cabinet doors were covered in grease and filth. Although I’m trying to recycle things from the old house, the cabinets didn’t make the cut. The old brown fridge was rusting inside and made random horrific noises. So we bought a little bar fridge for our temporary kitchen set-up. Open shelving is totally on trend right?

I still cook — even under these conditions. Food is stored away from the dust (the painter tape labels seemed relevant) and we picked up a little induction cooktop. I’ve become a master of one-pot meals.

The next post will show you the results of our phase #1 reno! Stay tuned for it on June 19th!

Read blog posts about my colleague Catherine Sweeney’s renovation process, too!

Photo credits:
1-11. Mandy Milks