This is part eight of The Renovation Diaries, a week-by-week chronicle of Western Living's editor-at-large as she tackles a fixer-upper. View all Reno Diary entries here.
It’s been a few weeks since I reported in, but here’s the thing people don’t tell you when you’re doing a renovation: there is no time to do or think about anything else. (For example, my job.)
Lots has happened. We turned a meaningful corner, metaphorically speaking, once we destroyed a meaningful corner, literally speaking. I can’t recall if I’ve complained at length about the wall that enclosed the kitchen, because I cried about it to so many different people that I became exhausted with myself.
Complaining became an out-of-body experience. “This again?” my brain would sigh, as my mouth opened for another whine-sesh (typically during a wine-sesh, to be frank) about how everyone in my life was too much of a COWARD to just sledgehammer this thing to pieces and determine once and for all if it was load-bearing or not. “I’m outta here!” Brain would wander off to think about more captivating content (eg: mentally comparing shades of white) while Mouth carried on with its tirade from muscle memory about (eg: UGH mom is such a buzzkill when she tells me removing a wall without permission could send people crashing through the ceiling to their death, get off my BACK!)
Anyways, if I haven’t caught you up on this horrifically boring saga, here are the need-to-knows: We wanted the wall down. No one was 100-percent certain that was safe, though I was 100-percent certain it was aesthetically necessary. This brought us to a bit of an impasse. The fine folks at Alair Custom Homes came to look inside the ceiling and gave us the thumbs up from a structural engineer, bringing peace to the kingdom. Now we just have one neat-and-tidy post and very nice, open sight-lines from the kitchen to the hall, and my upstairs neighbours have not fallen through the ceiling even once.
David from Alair Homes, saving the day and allowing me to take a picture of him for this diary. A true champ.Paul takes on the wall. "Can I cut down part of it?" I asked. "No," he said. Fair. The wall did not come down easily, let me be clear. Some sections, it was a splinter-by-splinter affair. Whoever is responsible for originally building this apartment, may I just say: I hate you?This post holds all of the electrical wires and pipes, but also... my dreams??
Once that hiccup was solved, things really started falling into place. Our cabinet maker, Radu, came to do final measurements and we’re expecting delivery of those (and our custom living room bench and a Flamingo Orange dresser) in two glorious weeks. Is this feeling I’m feeling… joy? Hope? Or indigestion from eating three samosas for lunch? Whichever it is, the countdown is on.
In the meantime, the ceiling has been lovingly spackled and smoothed by a friend of a friend whose first name is Ray and whose last name I can’t recall but it probably should be Michelangelo because this damn thing is more beautiful (though admittedly more minimalist) than the Sistine Chapel. (It turns out that it’s impossible to take a good photo of a ceiling, but please believe me when I say: this is a true work of art.) People are going to come in when this is done and want to talk about the gorgeous light fixtures our designer, Ben Leavitt, picked out and I’m going to be like “SHUT UP AND LOOK AT THIS MUD JOB! SHOW SOME RESPECT!”
Name a better glow up, I dare you.
In the past few weeks, we’ve also gotten a few more coats of primer on the wall. If you squint, it’s almost possible to imagine what the living room will look like when it’s not blue-and-nicotine. Though honestly I feel like I can visualize it clearly with my eyes straight-up closed at this point, because I’ve spent approximately 10 hours this past week making an elaborate Photoshop mock-up to review all possible permutations of furniture options. For example, what would look better: the yellow sofa with blue dining chairs and the coffee table Max hates least? Or rust sofa with wood dining chairs and the coffee table Max hates most? Decisions, decisions!
Two coats of primer in. (The fireplace is eventually going to be tiled. Stay tuned!)Primer coat number two in progress.
One possible combination of thousands of great furniture pieces picked out by Designer Ben. It is my virtual dollhouse and, yes, this is the only control I have over my life right now. Please hold my calls.Max and his dad have spent a lot of time wrestling with cement-board to waterproof the shower walls. It’s a shame we won’t ever see all of the incredible labour and care they’ve put into this part of the process, but I guess the experience will always stay with them (because the cement dust that is undoubtedly hardening right now inside of their lungs).
A round of applause for the cement board here that we will never see again because it'll be covered in tile.
In addition to learning to appreciate ceilings, I have developed a newfound respect for doors, as we’ve slowly started that installation process. Did you know it takes like an hour and a half to hang a door? Or at least that’s how long it takes if you want your doors to be “straight” and “able to either open or close” — I suppose if you had some more non-conformist ideas about how to enter and exit rooms, you could really pick up the pace. It would probably also be faster if I wasn’t “assisting” Max who is assisting Paul by interrupting the levelling process every three minutes to ask if anyone needs any shims. In my defense: it’s fun to say “shims.”
Jamb-ing out with our first door (courtesy of Metrie, ooooh!). Primer is on, closet door is hung, our home office is practically move-in ready.
Wallpaper from Anewall is awaiting pickup — we’ve decided the theme for our new home office is “Have a Zoom Backdrop So Good It’ll Get You a Promotion,” with the assumption that this very fun terrazzo print is the true key to climbing the corporate ladder.
Anewall's Trendy Terrazzo wallpaper, destined for our future workspace.
As some things get ticked off the list, other things are added. You know what they say: “Two steps forward, one step back to learn how to repair a novelty touchtone phone from 1989.” The vintage tomato phone we bought to use as our buzzer is a great purchase, in the sense that it really does look like a tomato (and, importantly, has an official “Tomato Phone ™” sticker on it — accept no imitators!). But, in a surprise to no one, it was also a bad purchase, in the sense that it doesn’t actually function. I’m confident, though, that we’ll either figure it out eventually or give up! If I’ve learned anything, that’s what renovations are all about.
Follow along on Instagram and come back next week for more Renovation Diary updates!