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It's been five months for an 850-square-foot renovation. Do not do the math.
Unfathomably, it continues. The Renovation Diaries is a week-by-week(ish) chronicle of Western Living‘s editor-at-large as she tackles a fixer-upper. View all Reno Diary entries here.
Why has there been such a long gap between my last renovation diary and this one? Because I knew if I wrote one, I would have to admit that this renovation is still happening. It’s not fun to feel like a fool, you guys and it’s even worse to feel like a fool and then have to sit there quietly while your colleague proofreads the 800 words you’ve written about it.
What’s been going on in Stink Haus this past month? As per usual, progress punctuated by devastating practical setbacks: Sisyphus, but make it HGTV!
While at a glance it seems as though the apartment is now move-in ready—there are light fixtures, there are floors on every underfoot surface, grout has been, uh, grouted and the spare keys wrestled back from the last contractor—I have been burned too many times by optimism before to believe it will ever happen.
But perhaps I need to manifest some positivity in this experience by focusing on what’s gone right for once, and not what’s gone wrong! For instance, I don’t have to tell you about the hole my father-in-law and I accidentally put in the front hall closet door, or that it turns out the second bucket of paint we bought is somehow a totally different shade from the first even though it was the same colour, same sheen, same brand, and mixed by the SAME PERSON. You don’t need to know that the hood fan duct was two-inches out of alignment with the ceiling duct. It’s not relevant right now that when we put in the baseboards, we discovered that about 20 percent of the walls are bowed (though on the bright side: what a great hands-on way for any young masochists out there to learn about both fulcrums and futility!)
What’s that? You’re curious why our bathroom sconce hasn’t been mounted yet? Well, if I explained to you that the hole we cut in the plywood for the electrical box is actually three inches too wide for the light mount, that wouldn’t really be in line with today’s goal of positive story telling.
In addition to not needing to tell you about the bad things, I also don’t want to tell you that I threw out the extra grout tint in an attempt to tidy up and then Max had to go into the dumpster to find it this morning.
So on to the good things.
The joy of handling a nail gun on a hot summer day. The citrus-y smell of a fancy hand soap you bought to celebrate the fact there’s running water now. A visit from a dog named Vinnie that accompanied the cabinetmaker one afternoon. The satisfaction of having all the components of the Ikea closets you want actually available to ship. Learning that ordering a custom mirror is way cheaper than getting one off the shelf. Laughing yourself silly when you find out your rag-tag electrical crew made an executive decision to put dimmers in the bathroom. A fun terrazzo Anewall wallpaper in your office that maybe isn’t perfectly trimmed but you hung all by yourself so everyone kindly keeps their critiques to themselves. Using the dimmer in the bathroom and being like, ‘maybe this is actually really nice and everyone should have soft lighting while they pee?’ A husband who doesn’t phone you from the dumpster to divorce you. (Though if he did, I completely understand. He can have the apartment; I won’t fight it.)
I’m not sure what’s going on over there in the apartment today as Max has not been keeping me in the loop (see: dumpster situation) and it has proven literally impossible to predict how long anything will take depending on what kind of fun surprises pop up along the way. Will the extra art lights we requested go in at the exact same speed and pace as the other 15 pot lights, or will we find out someone has thrown out an important piece of wire required for fishing cable through the ceiling that in someone’s defense (okay, it was me again, hi, yes, it’s a disease) really did look a lot like garbage?
Sometimes I like to think back to when I was younger and dumber, in January, when we sat down with Designer Ben and he said, based on wisdom from his own contracting team, that the scope of work we were looking at would be two months… maybe three months, tops. This weekend, we had the dubious honour of celebrating our five-month renovation-aversary. That’s a pace of 5.5 square feet per day, which, honestly, feels correct. I don’t know if there’s a Tortoise and the Hare-like fable where the protagonist is just slow and steady the whole time—The Banana Slug Who Napped So Hard He Died? Is that one?
If I could go back in time, would I warn myself? Would I appear as an eerie-yet-beautiful ghost from the future at her window and say, “You can have every faucet and light fixture you’ve ever wanted… for a price”? Is it a deal with the design devil that I would make again?
I probably can’t accurately answer that until we’re actually moved in and I’m using the beautiful bathroom faucets, the lights down nice and low so I can’t even tell the walls are bowed or that the walls are the wrong colour. Which has to happen soon. Any day now! Probably! After all, in August, Max’s parents are moving on to help their other child with his property improvement project (perhaps they too have a disease) and we’ll have no one left to lean on for help/blame for delays.
Follow along on Instagram and come back next week for more Renovation Diary updates!
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