6.30.2013

Blog land changes!

Hi Everyone!

Just popping in, to mention that Google Reader is going away tomorrow. You've probably seen tons of posts about this in blog land, but just a reminder that you can continue to follow us through BlogLovin.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin here:

Follow on Bloglovin

You can also continue to follow our blog with email. Just type your e-mail into the box under the "Keep up to date by email" box on the right hand menu and all new posts will go directly to your email inbox.

Oh and you can also continue to follow us through Google Friend Connect. Just simply click "join this site" on the blue button on our side menu.

So there you go! 3 easy ways to keep up to date with our posts and to stay connected with us- Bloglovin, E-mail or Google Friend Connect.

Don't forget you can always connect with us through Facebook and Twitter as well:

    



Looking forward to sharing many more projects and updates with you all!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Melissa and Ian

6.28.2013

What we've been up to: Update

This week has been a whirlwind. We've gotten a lot done around here, but its not without a lack of sleep or energy and we're both really looking forward to the Canada Day long weekend!

If you've been keeping an eye on our project list ("What we've been up to"), the "To Do" list is definitely getting shorter!

So here's a quick update (we'll be blogging about a bunch of these projects next week):

The upstairs floors are DONE:



and they match the bedroom floors :)



We are so happy with how they turned out-phew!

The nursery room floors are in, and we're in the process of putting together that room:



Nursery room closet system has been installed (Ian did an amazing job!):




and we installed a few new lights outside the house (some for style, some for function!):






















so there you have it! We're working away and things are getting done around here!
Are any of you working on any projects this weekend!?

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Melissa and Ian

6.24.2013

Nursery Before

When designing the nursery, the first decision was which room to turn into the nursery. We had 2 spare rooms to decide between- one small and the other a big larger and closer to our bedroom. In the end we chose the larger room that was closer to our bedroom. It just made sense to utilize the larger space and have the baby closer to us to begin with.

So that bedroom started looking like this (minus the d├ęcor and furniture that was the previous home owners):



Once we ripped out the laminate floors we were left with a pretty bare room:




We picked a paint colour and after painting all of the walls, closet, and re-painting the trim and mouldings (and caulking) we ended up with this:




We chose the colour "Pelican" by ICI/Dulux paints as we found it had a bit of a taupe/grey base to it, which we loved. Its just a bit less grey than the other rooms in our house, but still matches well. The picture doesn't really show the true colour of the walls- lighting really changes everything, but here is the swatch:



Looks pretty grey to me on my computer screen! However, it is much less grey in person. Just after finishing this room we decided on installing hardwood/bamboo floors in our entire upstairs and all of the baseboards need to be removed. After all the work Ian had put into painting the walls, baseboards and caulking everything, this was a bit of a pain. So he's removed them all and now this room is just waiting for the floors to finally be finished. Once that happens we'll replace the baseboards, caulk and repaint if necessary and then we can start officially putting this room together!

Stay tuned for more progress on this room :)

Want to see how our nursery turned out?! Check out our post on the final reveal HERE!

6.20.2013

Flooring Mishaps

Flooring woes. Honestly, this family has a lot of issues with flooring...and I don't just mean Ian and I. My parents have struggled with their own flooring issues and I can't say this is the first time Ian and I have struggled...if you recall our marble bathroom flooring problem. In each of these cases, the issue hasn't been a flaw with the materials themselves (thankfully!), but rather the install or the store we purchased them from. So you can probably see where this is going....we've had issues with the bamboo floors upstairs.

Lets start from the beginning shall we?

We debated and debated on what kind of flooring to choose. After finding a great deal on our bamboo floors we decided to go with them and happily took home the 25 boxes of flooring that we needed.



We didn't bother checking the flooring inside the boxes, since we had already installed this EXACT floor from this exact store in the past. We've loved how these floors look, in our living and dining rooms, office and master bedroom you can see here.





We saw the sample in the store and it looked perfect and the boxes were the exact same as what we'd had in the past. Lesson learned: even if you are 150% SURE that you have the right flooring, check the boxes. Seriously, it will give you a piece of mind and could save you money in the end (if something were to be wrong).

We hired an installer and he showed up right on time to start with the floors. About halfway through the morning, he mentioned to Ian that something looked a bit off. Ian was able to tell right away that the floors were not the same floors we had already installed in our bedroom. Since he had started from the bedroom, the old floors were right up against the new ones, and it was easy to see the difference. It was subtle, yet noticeable. Ian told him to continue with the install, thinking it could just be the lighting or the fact that the bedroom floors had changed over the past year from the sunlight.



We came home from work that evening and the installer had finished the majority of the hallway. I instantly noticed the difference and did not like the new floors. Since we had never had problems with these floors before and the boxes were labelled the same we assumed it might have been a different dye lot and that we were being too picky.

The installer came back the next day, finished the hallway and nursery and Ian managed to re-install the baseboards, fill all nail holes and caulk and paint them before I get home. I came home (and I'm going to partly blame it on pregnancy hormones, ok?), but I looked at the floors and started to cry. Like really cry. I honestly did not like the new floors AT ALL. So, we debated and finally decided to go back to the store. You can see here that the difference is pretty noticeable:
We brought them a piece of the old flooring (that we had leftover from our bedroom) as well as the new flooring and the sales associates were honestly shocked. They brought over their sample and of course the new floors looked nothing like it. They went and checked all of the boxes of flooring and they all had the "new" floors in them. They went through a box in every pallet and finally when they got to the back of the piles, they found the old style of flooring. The manufacturer had changed the staining process and had not told them. The new floors looked more red in colour and did not have that same "bamboo streak effect" that the old floors had. The sales associates were pretty surprised and thankfully felt sorry for us. They had enough of the older style to give us as a replacement (and did not charge us for that).

The problems were, that we had already installed 10 out of the 25 boxes of flooring so we were only able to return 15 to the store. Also, we already had paid our installer for 2 days of work and now had to start all over again. As well, the installer had custom cut multiple pieces to fit around our railing (which had taken him hours) and he would now need to do that all over again.

That night, we spend the rest of the evening ripping out the new floors. Ian would rip up each board, I would fill a crate with as many as I could and Ian would carry them downstairs and dump them in the garage. 4 hours later we were done and back to where we started from. We left a few pieces around the railing so the installer could use them as a template.



Our installer was great and said he would be fine with starting over with whatever we wanted.

The next day we went back to the store, picked up the correct flooring and brought it home. We let it acclimatize over the weekend and the installer planned to start Monday. Sunday night, Ian and I went through each and every box (allll 25 of them) and checked each and every piece of flooring to make sure it was correct. It may have been overkill, but hey, better safe than sorry (and we are honestly not going to fix this a second time...could you imagine!?)

So there you have it. With the amount of renovations we do, we expect some set-backs here and there, however flooring has been a constant problem of ours. I would highly recommend that you double and triple check any materials that you bring home for renovations. It might take a bit of time, but in the end you'll feel better knowing the right product is being installed. Back to square one!



With this mishap, we now have to pay more for the floors than anticipated, however in the end its still going to cost us less than what we budgeted (barely, but we made it!), and my true feelings are that anything worth having is going to take time...so I'm expecting the floors to look awesome :)

So there you have it, not all projects go perfectly...but it makes it all worth it in the end when they do. Have any of you experienced any similar "mishaps" during a home reno project?! Please tell us we're not the only ones!

Melissa and Ian

6.18.2013

Backyard Projects Part 1

So we have a pretty long list of the things going on around here right now. In-between the indoor projects we're working on, we have multiple backyard projects on the go. I actually have a chalkboard in our office with all of the projects listed...yet it doesn't seem that I'm crossing a lot of them off lately. Every time Ian suggests another project, I point to that chalkboard and that pretty much ends the conversation...I think we often forgot how many things we have on the list.

Here's a quick run-through of what we're in the middle of right now:

To Do:

- Finishing the floors upstairs (hallway and all 3 bedrooms)
- Fill nail holes and paint all baseboards in 3 bedrooms after floors are installed
- Caulk all baseboards in 3 bedrooms after floors are installed
- Install nursery closet system
- Put together crib
- Put together nursery dresser/change table
- Put up blinds, curtains, photo frames, mobile and all other nursery accessories
- Sew crib skirt
- Create and paint change pad table topper
- Finish painting and sealing knobs for dresser/change table
- Finish buying major nursery purchases
- Fix all electrical/switches in house
- Finish putting plates and new switches around house
- Finish sanding and staining wood floor transition pieces
- Finish building up stairway posts
- Re-paint stairway railings
- Fix stone pathway and seal stones
- Plant tree and bushes in large back garden
- Plant flowers and bushes in smaller back gardens
- Seal deck
- Put up solar shade and patio furniture
- Prepare pool for use
- Finish mouldings in master bedroom
- Create roman shade for kids bathroom
- Put up mudroom light
- Put up new side porch light
- Fix up front garden (postpone to next year)
- Re-build pool deck (postpone to next year)


Completed:

- Finish privacy fence
- Rip out old plants/bushes in backyard
- Level and rebuild back garden
- Plant clematis in front of privacy fence
- Move side gate up to house
- Complete sod
- Build air conditioner sound wall
- Prepare deck for sealant
- Paint nursery
- Paint middle bedroom
- Put up nursery light

Ok that makes me tired just looking at it all! So obviously we'll blog about these things as we finish, but we have about 2.5 months to finish it all before baby arrives, so we'll see how that goes :) To keep us on track, I've posted this list on the right hand side of our menu bar of the website...now we have each other AND all of you to keep us on our toes!

So back to the backyard projects. We managed to knock 3 of them off the list this past weekend (despite the flooring mishap we had last week that I'll blog about later on), so we were pretty happy with that.

We finished the privacy fence, moved the side gate up and sodded the lawn and built the air conditioner sound wall. When I say "we" for these particular projects, I say that lightly. Most of this was Ian. I mean, I was helping...however its getting harder and harder for me to help with these projects as I get more and more pregnant, so the easy things like watering the sod, carrying back plants, etc., become my job.

So lets talk privacy fence first, shall we? We actually built this fence last year and decided to stain the deck and privacy fence as well. Finding stain was a big challenge for us last year but after 5 attempts, we did purchase a stain that we thought we liked. Since we couldn't seem to find a long period of time when it wasn't raining, we figured we'd start with staining the lattice in the privacy fence. We ended up deciding to leave the deck staining until this year and in the process made the decision to just leave the deck natural. Back to square one. So, since we were leaving the deck natural, we needed to replace the stained lattice in the privacy fence (so everything looks consistent).

Here's the fence last year:

 
then we stained it....
 
Then we decided to "un"-stain it....i.e. rebuild it;
 
 

The process for building this fence the first time around, began with 2 posts dug into the ground and cemented in. We hired someone to come by and do this for us, so they actually dug 3 holes and put in 3 posts for us. 2 posts were used for the privacy fence, and 1 was used for the air conditioner sound fence. Once the posts were finished, Ian built the rest of the frame (we actually measured how big we wanted this fence to be first and that determined where the post guys dug their holes):



We installed the top piece of the frame and then measured the distance from the ground to the top. We divided that number in half and cut 2 pieces of lattice to that size. Ian then installed a middle piece of wood to support the top lattice and to help give more support to the frame. Always level as you go...very important part or you'll end up with a lopsided privacy fence!

Next step was to install the first piece of lattice:




 Finally the second piece:



and you're done!

 


So this year, the only thing that had to be done, was to remove the top finishing piece, unscrew the old lattice and insert the new pieces. It didn't take us as long since the frame was already in place. Since taking this photo yesterday, we've planted 2 clematis that will hopefully grow up the fence over time and give us some additional privacy. So privacy fence- done!

We also completed the sound wall for the air conditioner. As I mentioned above, when Ian had the guys dig the holes for the privacy fence, he had them dig one post for the air conditioner sound wall. This wall goes directly from the side of the house into the post, so we really only needed that one post dug into the ground.

Before the post was dug into the ground, we started off with this:


We basically re-did the gardens around the backyard this year, so we didn't need to remove any plants or work around much.

From that point, Ian was able to install the second post against the house and then attach the middle and bottom bracing pieces:



The boards were each attached to fill in the frame and finally the top piece to finish it off. It already makes a big difference visually and will be nice when we are sitting on the deck to mask some of the sound from the AC unit:




Lastly, we moved the fence gate up and sodded behind it. Almost 2 years ago, Ian decided to rebuild our side gate. We have 2 side gates, however the one side mainly acts as an access to the pool shed. When Ian rebuilt the gate, he kept it in the same place it had originally been, which was a good distance away from the pool shed. However, this left us with a large area of ground that either needed to be filled in with patio stones or grass. If we chose grass, he'd have to open the gate to mow it, which was a pain. The solution? To move the gate closer to the end of the house/edge of the patio stone. This would still allow us to lay sod, but on the OUTSIDE of the fence, for easy access with mowing.

Ian basically disassembled the gates and reinstalled them against the patio stone:


From this picture you can tell where the gate used to be- basically where the dirt begins:


Now that we had moved the gate up, we needed to sod the large area of dirt. Ian had a summer job laying sod once, so it tends to be a pretty quick process around here. In 10 minutes we had gone from the picture above to this:



It definitely looks much better and will be a lot easier to maintain.

So that's what kept us busy this weekend! Not a huge dent into our list of projects, but I'd say we're on our way.

Have any of you been working on backyard projects lately?!

Melissa and Ian





6.14.2013

Choosing a Hardwood Floor

So now that I've shared the details on our flooring choice with all of you, lets get into the specifics, shall we? We chose to go with a bamboo flooring, rather than a hardwood and I'm going to explain what helped us to make our decision.

When we first decided that we wanted to replace the flooring in our living and dining rooms, we knew a hardwood of some sort was what we were after. There were actually hardwood floors already installed in those rooms, but the boards were pretty thin, not in the best condition and would have had to be stripped and stained. We decided that rather than take the risk of stripping and staining (and potentially spending a lot and not liking the end look) we would rip them out and start fresh.

The living room began looking like this (previous homeowners decor):



After we installed the new floor, we ended up with flooring that looked just like our bedroom floors:

 
We love the final product and are very happy with how it has turned out in every room we have installed it in.

We had previously installed laminate flooring in our last home and it was a great choice for that house. We knew it was not our forever home and based on the value of the house, we didn't want to put a lot into it, so laminate seemed like a good choice.  We were also hoping that it would slightly increase the value of the home when we sold it (since the carpet we replaced was AWFUL). We purchased a medium-dark coloured laminate and installed it ourselves. It took a few days (and a bit of getting used to!), but once we got started, it was smooth sailing. We bascially laid each board on the floor and tapped it in, using a rubber mallet. Some pieces went in smoother than others, but once you get the hang of it, its not that difficult.

Upon putting that house up for sale, we actually had people asking us if the floors were in fact hardwood (despite the high gloss finish), so we figured we made a good choice in the flooring.


Fast forward to our current house and although we liked the laminate, we decided to upgrade slightly and install  some type of hardwood instead.

The first decision we made was the type of wood. We loved the look of maple, however one of the downfalls to maple is that it is a softer wood. For us, that wasn't very logical. Not only do we have an 85 pound dog, but we also didn't want to have to worry about scratches and dents from kids in the future. So maple was out.

We knew we had to pick a harder floor and were recommended to consider oak but we didn't like the look of oak as much. Oak tends to show a lot of grain and that wasn't a look we preferred, so oak was out. There were a lot of other choices in wood floors, however we couldn't seem to find a wood or stain that fit our preferences. Many of the wood floors we looked at, were way out of our price range and we needed to find something that fit within our budget.

Through our research, we started to see a great deal of postive information about bamboo flooring and this intrigued us so we decided to investigate. When we went to look at a sample of bamboo, we compared it to a sample of maple and with a dark stain, the grains of the boards looked very similar. Bamboo definitely has a very specific look to it, but when comparing it to hardwood, it had a similiar look to the maple.

You can see in this picture here (bamboo on the left, hardwood on the right) that there is a very distinctive look to it:



We also found that bamboo does come in a fair amount of colour options. We often read that bamboo only comes in light or dark colours, but we found a fair amount of colours in between- it all depends on how it is manufactured. We chose a dark colour called "coffee" and although if I were to choose flooring all over again, I might go a bit lighter, I love the colour we picked. Since we went with a darker colour, its more likely that the flooring was produced through a more complex process which can make it slightly softer, however we haven't found this to be an issue yet.

So we liked the look of the grain, liked the colour options available, the next step was to find out the postive aspects of choosing bamboo over hardwood.

First off, we loved that bamboo floors were helpful to the environment, as they are a renewable resource. Bamboo floors are believed to be more sustainable than synthetic flooring products since they are generally made from natural sources-such as FSC-certified wood, bamboo, cork or eucalyptus. Bamboo is also a rapidly renewal resource. Since bamboo grows incredibly fast (much faster than tree's that can take decades to grow), bamboo is ready for harvest in about 4-6 years. As well, bamboo is not a tree, rather a grass which means that its root system is left intact when it is harvested, so it can continue to re-grow. Another positive aspect for the environment, is that bamboo requires less pesticides or chemical fertilizers (if any) compared to hardwoods during production.

This information helped us to understand that bamboo was an very environmentally friendly, but we also wanted to learn about the construction of bamboo flooring. Bamboo floors are constructed as the bamboo stalks are cut into strips and assembled in a variety of different ways. I thought this basic guide from TLC was an easy way to explain the different ways in which the construction is completed and the floors are stained a variety of different colours.

So in doing our research, we loved the look, loved the functionality of the wood and thats why we went with the flooring we did (bamboo). In the end, Im really happy that we chose to keep with the bamboo upstairs. Its going to be easy to clean and I think its going to look great. We've had a few set-backs with the flooring this week, but we'll update you on all of that next week :)

Happy Friday everyone!

Melissa and Ian


6.11.2013

Carpet v.s Hardwood

Over 2 months ago, we ripped out the carpeting in our upstairs hallway and got rid of all the laminate flooring in our upstairs bedrooms. Our master bedroom had already been given the update of new bamboo hardwood, but we weren't sure what we wanted to do for the rest of the upstairs.

We still hadn't made a decision on what we wanted to do, however we had decided to install pot-lights in the main floor hallway. In order to properly install these, we had to cut into the ceilings from upstairs....which meant removing any flooring we had upstairs:







This wasn't a major issue, since we knew we were planning on replacing these floors anyways. We decided to rip everything out, have the pot-lights installed and then decide later on what flooring we wanted to include. While ripping out the carpet, we ran into some issues. The previous homeowners had 3 cats, which hadn't had a major impact on us yet, however Ian is SERIOUSLY allergic to cats. When we ripped up the carpet, it stirred up all kinds of cat hair, dander, etc- that didn't impact us right away, but did eventually. Once the pot-lights were installed, we had made the mistake of setting the carpet back on the floors (just so we had something nice to walk on before we replaced the flooring) and Ian was barely able to function for weeks- we finally threw out the carpet and this seemed to help. After seeing an allergist, Ian was told that despite the cats, carpeting really wasn't the best option for him to have in a house so we kept this in mind.

Fast forward 2 months and we've been getting pretty tired of walking on the subfloors...it was time to replace the upstairs flooring.

We had narrowed down our choices to either carpet or the same bamboo that we installed in our bedroom/office/living and dining rooms. Our first choice was to install the bamboo/hardwood. We liked the idea of consistency upstairs and felt it would help with the value of the home, along with Ian's (and potential kids) allergies. However, after looking into carpeting, we felt this might be a better option. Softer to walk on, more cozy feeling for kids rooms, potentially more durable for kids and babies, etc.

We went back and forth on our decision for a long time, however in the end the main factor that played into our decision was cost. We knew the bamboo was going to cost us about $4.00/ sq ft for the purchase price (based on what we paid before), plus the cost of install (around $2.00-$3.00/sq ft) and the cost of additional materials- subfloor, etc. With 560 square feet to do, we couldn't afford the hefty price of $4000-$5000 for the bamboo floors. We wanted to be able to do all the floors upstairs for under $3000 (if possible) so whatever fit into that budget was going to be the final choice.

We even made a pros and cons list for both carpet and flooring:

Pro's for Bamboo/Hardwood:
* May increase home value
* Consistent look upstairs
* Easy to clean
* Good for allergies (Ian)
* Easy to use in designing
* Environmentally friendly
* No off-gassing effects
* Know exactly what to purchase

Con's for Bamboo/Hardwood:
* COST
* Can see dirt easily (dark floors)
* May get scratched
* Not as soft for kids/baby

Pros for Carpet:
* COST
* Soft for kids/baby

Cons for Carpet:
* Allergies
* Not sure where to start- what to buy
* Off-gassing = Must install soon- (so off-gassing can occur before baby goes into nursery)
* Colour matching- hard to find colour design to match with walls, etc
* Durability- will it wear well?
* Not as easy to clean?- spills, etc
* Not as good for re-sale

We stared at the list for a while, but in the end carpet won. Well really, cost won. Based on what we expected carpet to cost, we figured carpeting was our only option.

So we went carpet shopping. We did our homework on carpet and although wool carpet was highly recommended (highly durable and super eco friendly), we couldn't afford the hefty price tag of $7-10/sq ft.  I had an idea of the style of carpeting I wanted, and this was the look:




I loved the look of carpet with a stripe/line pattern, however this was NOT easy to find. Every store we went into, did not have any carpet samples with this pattern...even the one company that had a brochure with this pattern in it, did not have a sample of it.

We had also decided that a combination carpet (cut pile and loop) would be the style that would work best for us and a polypropylene or nylon made carpet would last longer. However, most of the sales associates we talked to, kept trying to talk us into a high priced carpet and we felt very lost. There were so many options and possibilities with carpet, we had no idea where to begin.

While running into multiple carpet stores, we drove by the store that we originally purchased our bamboo from and decided to just take a look inside and check the cost of our flooring again. Lone behold, we walked over to our bamboo and the flooring gods were smiling on us. There was our bamboo, on clearance for $1.99/sq ft as they were no longer carrying this product.

They had plenty left in stock and we were able to purchase all of the flooring for our upstairs for under $1350.00. Boom.

We didn't even debate on it. We literally just looked at each other and said "done". This had solved our dilemma and we knew in the long run, hardwood flooring would be best for us. The other major reason why we were so keen on the hardwood, was because of Ian's allergies. Not only have they been ridiculously awful this spring (the worst in years), but also brought on asthma (which has hasn't had since childhood) and we worried that if our babe were to have these same allergies that carpet might not be the best for the nursery.

So now that we had our flooring we needed to find an installer. We called around and found someone who was able to start this week (because of a delay in another project) and was willing to charge us $2.00/sq ft for install (all in). So $1100.00 for the install, plus the cost of the flooring ($1350) came to $2450 all-together. Amazing! We beat our budget of keeping it under $3000.00 even with the cost of the additional materials for install ($180) and the cost of areas rugs for the bedrooms ($300 for rugs for all 3 rooms)!

In prepping for the install of the new floors, we had to remove all of the baseboards, which was a bit of a pain since Ian had just painted, caulked and fixed them all up, however it had to be done:

 
 
 
 
 
Thankfully all of the baseboards came off fairly easily and we don't think we are going to have to replace any of them. Not only is this easier when putting them back in, but also helps to keep our costs down. In order to make the process smoother when putting the baseboards back, Ian labelled the wall and the back of each baseboard with a number, so we know which ones go where:

 

So come tomorrow, the floors are going to be installed and we can finally start putting the upstairs back together- including the nursery :)

Our house is a bit of a disaster zone right now. We wanted to make sure to acclimate the new floors to the house before the install (which I would highly recommend). You want to make sure if you are installing hardwood floors, that the wood is in the house or room they are going to be installed in, for at least 48 hours before install.  This allows the moisture content of the wood to adjust to the conditions in the room. You don't really need to do this with engineered hardwood floors, however I would still recommend taking the precautions.  So, the flooring boxes have been taking over the hallway and mudroom for the past few days. Here's just the tip of the iceberg...



Now, although we have decided on hardwood floor for our upstairs, we have nothing against carpet. I personally like the warmth it brings to a space and softness. We have decided that when renovating our basement (dont hold your breath for that one!), we will do carpet as it makes the most sense down there. So, this carpet hunt will happen again eventually. Hopefully we'll be a bit more prepared at that point!

Melissa and Ian



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