Tag Archives: renovations

Spot of sun makes things grow

Warm pancakes soaked with Homemade maple syrup
Crocus and Hen & Chick poking up in the sunshine
2 little dogs excited to explore High Park
Cashmere, silk, mohair and merino together again and off the loom Continue reading

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progress is stinky business

We spent last night engulfed in a halo of floor adhesive fumes…not the best for a good nights sleep, but a small price to pay for the amazing progress on the third floor.

The drywall is completed. Paint has gone up. And now we are onto the baseboard trim and redoing the stairs.
It looks like hell right now, but have faith, it’s coming together.

3rd floor reno stairs Continue reading

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curbside treasures

Super exciting walk to work last week!
On my way to catch the streetcar to work I happened upon these lovely things put out for the trash…


what is it?  and why do I think they were worth digging out, lugging back home and being a tiny bit late for the office, opps. Because these lovelies were just the very EXACT thing we needed! Continue reading

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hiding in the attic

I’ve been in a bit of a fibre frenzy lately, and Dale has been nice enough to grant me a hiatus from the hard slog of renovations…but that doesn’t mean things aren’t getting done round the city house.

Just about a year ago I went off to London with the girls for a pre-wedding broo-ha-ha.

When I got back home this was lurking in the attic!

Continue reading

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Let’s take a house tour…

We really poured our heart and soul into this project.  Every inch of this house had to be scrubbed, re-paired, re-plastered, re-painted and more!

After years and years of neglect and abuse in one ridiculous summer we were able to  (with help from many I might add) bring it back up to a level it deserved to be.

Great bones and lovely period details made this a restoration worth doing.

Now on to part one of the hour tour!


220 rubidge st

All exterior windows, trim and wood work restored and painted, new roof, new eaves and soffits, new furnace.


We found a great set of period appropriate doors on one of our road-trips, and brought them back for this place.

front entrance w stained glass and side light

They look like they have been here from the beginning, I couldn’t be more pleased with the end result!

Front entranceway

To the right a large front room with stained glass.

Front Staircase

Front stairs are painted Farrow and Ball’s Drawing Room Blue


The hall leads to living room area then beyond to kitchen, powder room and rear staircase.

Original 1800's wood staircase detailing

Original 1800’s wood staircase detailing

Original 1800's wood staircase detailing

Front Staircase to second floor

second floor landing

All floors, walls, ceiling, doors and trim freshly painted after all of the repairs.

2nd floor landing stained glass window

Stained glass window in landing and also in the front 2 bedrooms.

raised glass detailing on window

Raised glass detail on landing window

etched glass detailing on window

Etched glass detail

1800's iron grate

1800’s iron grate in hall originally for a stove pipe, now just a lovely period detail.

2nd floor landing

2 front west facing  bedrooms, 3rd middle bedroom and a 4th east facing bedroom overlooking the backyard.

Stained glass window detail in bedrooms
Stained glass window detail in all of the front rooms.

West facing large bedroom
West facing large bedroom.

Each bedroom features freshly painted walls, ceiling, closets, matchstick blinds and new decorator ceiling fans

West facing Large bedroom
Large Middle Bedroom

Large Middle Bedroom

large middle bedroom
Large Middle Bedroom
Large middle bedroom
Large east facing bedroom

Large east facing bedroom

Large east facing bedroom

Trim details original to the home

We were able to keep all the original trim details preserved and restored.

trims and molding details orginal to the home
Smaller west facing Bedroom
This is the only smaller sized bedroom in the home and our home base while renovating.

It features a great view into the mature maple tree outside and stained glass.


I have since moved the bed around and put up some shelving for our stuff while we are visiting.

There’s something about this little room that I just love!

Next time, bathrooms, attic, rear stairs and more!

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the bathrooms are finished!

Sunday night we pushed and pushed and actually got the bathrooms finished.  Thank you Natas for those amazingly delicious xtra large afternoon coffees, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Here’s a refresher of what we were starting with.

bathroom before

bathroom before

bathroom before

bathroom before

No words for it but NASTY!

Nasty no more…..Feast your eyes on the afters!

New flooring, new walls, new plumbing, new ceiling, new tub, new toilet, new surround, new fixtures, new baseboards.  New New New!!!!!!  Can you tell I am proud of what we have pulled off?!

finished upper bathroom

finished bathroom

  • Toilet, bulk purchase @ Peterborough Rona ($120 $70)
  • Sink, Toronto Restore ($40)
  • Stone counter top, Toronto Restore ($39)
  • Flooring, Ottawa Restore ($10)
  • Ikea apelskar taps, ebay ($25)
  • Ikea godmorgon cabinet and handles, As-is Toronto Ikea ($109)
  • Ikea godmorgon cabinet legs, now or never Toronto Ikea ($8 each)
  • Ceiling light fixture, Toronto Restore ($20)
  • Wall light fixture, Toronto Restore ($30)
  • Ikea mirror, re-purposed from our Berryman house (free)
  • Soaker tub, Oshawa Restore ($50)
  • Subway tiles, clearance Stone Tile ($1.14 a square foot)
  • Shower head and taps, Lowes ($79)
  • Curved Shower Bar, Buffalo Home Depot ($24)
  • Shower Curtain and rings, Dollarama ($2)
  • Matchstick blinds, Canadian Tire ($9.99)
  • Wall paint,  mistint Benjamin Moore ($8 one gallon)
  • Trim paint, Ottawa Restore ($50 18.9L)
  • Baseboard trim, Peterborough Restore (1/3 listed price @ homedepot)
  • Bathroom Exhaust Fan, Toronto Restore ($5)
  • GFI outlet with built in nightlight, Buffalo Home Depot ($17)
  • Aluminum wallplates, Belleville Restore (.75 cents each)
  • Aluminum vent cover, re-purposed from our Berryman house (free)

and now for the mainfloor!

When we first saw the house there was no main floor bathroom, just a place under the stairs to put junk in.  This is how it looked in all it’s busted up walls, rotting floor and failing plaster glory!


and now we have a new two piece that matches the period style of the house!

finished downstairs bathroom

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the glitz the glamour

It may have taken us a few months but we have managed to find our good work flow.

While Dale is breaking his back lifting sheets of drywall, kitchen cupboards, power tools, skylights etc.  I strap on a pink respirator mask and glasses, get up on ladders and scaffolding and scrub away at flaking paint, cobwebs, creepy crawlies and bad plaster.  Later returning over and over and over again to sand and apply coat after coat of  drywall mud to make everything all pretty and fresh looking again.

Turns out I am better at mudding and taping than Dale.   I have that perfect level of OCDness that makes sure I work the mixture and get all the bubbles out while also feathering out the edges just right so I don’t have to do much sanding later.

hallway ceiling

This is a pretty mild case. Basically a large patch of water damage caused by holes in the roof letting water seep down between the attic walls and end up here on the second floor landing ceiling. The last owner put plaster over it all instead of fixing the problem and so what was left for us was lumpy, stained, peeling  and cracking.  Since the ceiling is now dry and the holes have since be repaired it was best to use the scraper to chip most of it off, sand down the rest and smooth over a nice skim coat of plaster that I will sand down after it dries.

The second ceiling patch I had to work on was WAAAAAAY worse.  It looks like a big ol chunk of the ceiling came down in this back bedroom due to some hefty leakage from above (this room is located under the former attic bathroom)…yucko.


I don’t think the former owner was very handy as he did the worst patch of all time.   Problem number one, he cut out all of the lathe in the ceiling so there was no support for the HUGE piece of drywall he used. Problem number two, he didn’t cut out enough of the failing plaster around the hole choosing instead to smuck on the durabond 90 (problem number three) thick and waffely to ‘hold it’… and left it like that, unpainted, unsanded, seams untaped, unfinished. Nice. Needless to say we tore it out and started fresh.

Durabond setting-type joint compound is much harder than your traditional drywall joint compound, and much harder to sand. You want to apply it in thin, smooth-as-possible coats to make sure you don’t leave yourself with a lot of unnecessary sanding in the end. Sigh…I guess no one told the last guy that.  The old ‘patch’ was applied so thick and messy and was set like concrete so Dale had to use his grinder to get it off.  There is no need to use something so heavy duty on a zero traffic spot like a ceiling.  Not fun.

This is our repair after 2 coats and I know it looks bad, but it’s gonna be great with one more sand and a thin finishing coat.  Trust me!

back large bedroom ceiling

We had some HUGE holes to fill up there and it will probably take a few more goes before it’s done and level.  What we use on these big gaping holes is a heavy duty metal mesh to bridge the gaps and allow the plaster to hold on to something.

metal mesh for patching holes in the ceiling

The mesh is pliable and you can stuff it in and the wire edges grip right onto the uneven edges left behind where you cut back to the good plaster.   Be patient, don’t over apply your mud thinking you can fill it all in one go.  It usually takes me 3 messy fills before I can get sanding and applying finishing layers.

When it’s a regular drywall seam that needs bridging we tend to only use paper tape  rather than the sticky mesh tape. I find the texture of the mesh always shows through and it’s not really worth all the bother. The paper tape is really easy to apply anyhow and you can rip it off easily to fit the seam when you are on the top rung of the ladder in some awkward position.

Paper tape is easy to work with so no worries.  You just have to have a thin layer of compound down first then you press it in and apply another thin layer on top. easy peasy! Working the compound is another story, but you will find your technique.

I like this stuff.

the mud of choice!

dust control, the mud of choice!

when you sand most of it drops right to the ground (unless you are working directly above, in which case it drops right on your head.  Also, don’t even think about using a fan in the room when you are sanding.  All the dust will swirl around and land right in yer eyes.  Makes for a VERY sweaty job, but at least you will be able to see.    Remember, with applying mud, less is more!

take 5

there’s no room for ‘pretty’ on this job-site

I find you need to wipe off your face and the inside of your mask ALOT! So here’s a tip on how to stay cool and comfy with all that dust and sticky heat.

I took a men XL shirt and cut myself a new neckline. Don’t sweat it if you cut off too much, it’s not a fashion show.

new neckline

I also removed the bands from the sleeves and cut a line diagonal from the seam upwards then a second cut straight across  the top fold as shown in the picture.  Now you have fluttery cap sleeves with an added bonus!

where to make your sleeve cuts

Those fluttery bits will  give you a built in ‘hanky’ on each shoulder that is dust free on the underside and super easy to find for the ol face (and eye if you didn’t listen to the part about not using a fan) wipe down.  Using men’s XL shirts gives you a loose fit that should help shield you from all the falling dust and have you cool by keeping the material away from the body.

Another thing the experts don’t tell you…  this dust is DRYING, as in Sahara desert dry.  I wear rubber gloves to keep my hands from being destroyed and keep my hair up in a bun soaked through with conditioner and the dust still does a number.   Most of my face is covered with the respirator mask (buy a good one!) and safety goggles but i still need to slather on the moisturizer after I shower to get the dust off.   Invest in some moisturizing soap while you are at it as well!

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nothin like a head cold in july

It wasn’t intentional, but last week I brought home a lovely treat for Dale and I.  As the head cold settled in our renovations plateaued.  Between the head crushing pain of a full blown sinus infection and the restricted breathing inside our ventilator masks our back stairwell project ended up taking a little longer than expected.

The old crumbly plaster had to be removed with new drywall board put up.  Very tight space, Very steep stairwell, and many many many complicated cuts to be made.

back stairwell


back stairwell

Dale did a great job staying focused despite all the fogginess in our heads.  Ummm I should add the poor man was also working with one broken big toe (and 2 sprained little buddies) carrying drywall sheets up and down the stairs and ladder like a champ.

He also kept his head held high as we went about our home depot shopping with one steel toe boot and one mooseskin moccasin on, rockin that dusty homeless look like a champ.
work dale

I love that man o mine.

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