This is part seven of The Renovation Diaries, a week-by-week chronicle of Western Living's editor-at-large's attempts to tackle a fixer-upper. To read past columns, click here.
By looking at the bare concrete floors, the exposed wood frames, the dancing electrical wires, the airplane-chic toilet, you might not assume we’ve been at this renovation for 10 weeks now. But here we are.
I’m not here to complain though (I’ve done enough of that already). I’m here to celebrate. Because I think we have reached a thrilling turning point in the renovation. Do I know how far out we are from completion? Dear god no. But it feels like things are all about to start cascading into place, as we almost maybe sort-of are about at the beginning of the finishing touches.
Our talented and very patient cabinetmaker, Radu at Sofo Kitchens, has come and done his final measurements, so things are coming together in that department. He gave us a panel to show us the final colour. It’s propped up on our bedside table, like it’s a photo of our daughter and we’re a cop in an ‘90s movie who needs a reminder of what the hell we’re doing all this for.
As I type this, our wonderful ceiling contractor — nay, ceiling artist — Ray is beginning his fourth day of work wrestling the ceiling into submission. Popcorn texture and the rough patching will be no match for… whatever’s in that bucket of his. I did not ask. I do not care. I am busy dreaming of next week when the ceiling will be smooth like a freshly zamboni’ed curling rink. I can’t wait to totally take it for granted and never think about it or notice it, you know?
The patchwork ceiling poor Ray has to deal with.
Our main job this week has been to let Ceiling Ray in and out of the apartment, which is nice because we are still recovering physically from hauling our shipment of Metrie doors one at a time up three storeys. Yes, that meant Tetris-ing a door and two adults in and out of an elevator nine separate times. Yes, that does include double-hung solid-core closets, thank you for asking. (RIP Max’s shoulder.) No, I didn’t wear shorts with pockets so, no I wasn’t able to carry my keys to get us in the various checkpoints in the building. Yes, that was very inconvenient and annoying, and yes, I think we should be pointing the finger at women’s fashion, thank you for agreeing with me on this one! No, you lift from the bottom!!! The other bottom!!!!!
This is what it looks like when you order an apartment's worth of doors and then cavalierly tell the warehouse "We don't have a forklift, but I'm sure that's fine!"
Moving the baseboards and trim (also from Metrie!) upstairs was logistically simpler, but some (Max) would argue, more emotionally draining. Our strategy went like this: I would pick up the 16-foot plank in the parking lot, flip it up vertically and wobble over to pass it up to Max on the balcony; from there, he would offer helpful pointers such as “Don’t hit any cars” and “Why are you doing it like that” before deftly pulling the board to safety in the living room. It was almost like a Cirque du Soliel act, but if the acrobats had no core strength and were both actively planning to get very drunk later.
The point is: we sweat hard this week, but emerged victorious, with an apartment full of doors that will (theoretically) one day separate rooms from one another. I personally vote for the bathroom door to be installed first because there is a very special kind of anxiety that comes around peeing while your father-in-law could walk by at any moment — the kind of anxiety that inspires you to yell, “I’M PEEING! I’M PEEING!” through the whole affair, lest anyone forget where you’ve disappeared to in an 850-square-foot apartment with no doors.
Max working from our makeshift office: two camping chairs in the living room. (Yes, we already installed internet. We're civilized.
Speaking of father-in-law Paul: this week, he heroically re-routed our buzzer phone cord to emerge out of a new entryway niche. If we ever actually get to live here and ever can actually invite people over again, this will be very handy. Max celebrated by buying a novelty landline phone shaped like a tomato. I celebrated by buzzing every single person in the building trying to figure out which number on the directory was ours, only to discover we weren’t listed at all. (A kindly neighbour looked through 20 years of strata docs to help me out: shout out to my girl L.L. in suite 315!)
Oh, also a win this week: CIRCLE WALL LIVES!
So that’s where we’re at for now: over the hump — probably, hopefully — and onwards. It's all downhill from here! (That's... a positive expression, right?)
Follow along on Instagram and come back next week for more Renovation Diary updates!