Kitchen reno: the final chapter

The final chapter unless you count all of the little things we still need to do like painting a bit a trim, a bit of caulking etc…

Not much to say. I’ll let the photos do the talking. Enjoy!IMG_4328


Yeah, so I left a few things on the counter.  I’m no stager.


What I see when I walk in the front door.  Makes me smile.


The new bank of drawers.


The hidden spice rack.  Just brilliant.

The drawer butcher block is a find I’ll treasure forever.  Available here.


Look at the curve on the moulding.  Tim Soper is an artist.  The cupboards were inspired by pinterest pics: Here and here.


I love the metal grating for the vents and how they tie the cupboard fronts together.

Huge amounts of storage and a clever broom closet, another Tim Soper invention.

IMG_4342 2IMG_4341IMG_4327IMG_4347

IMG_4361 2

The flour drawer.  One of Tim Soper’s genius inventions.

and that pretty much completes our tour.  Now look at me…





Look back….

the awkward stoveLook again!  Yep. I can’t believe it either.IMG_4336




Kitchen Reno: the final stretch

Not the prettiest series of posts I’ve ever written but I’m just wanting to get this process down as promised.  Not my best writing but hopefully the outcome is worth it!

I think I forgot to mention in the last instalment that I painted the hideous backsplash white just after our cupboards were painted.  It was actually a great solution that lasted a long time. Although they are not close ups, when you look at the before and after photos you can see the amazing difference:

In the next steps in the reno we knew we wanted to keep the original cupboards.  Jamie’s paint job was fantastic and had really held up.  I couldn’t justify getting rid of them.  So we were left with the question of how to approach the backsplash and the counter.  The backsplash had been on there for 60 years or so and the wall behind is plaster.  I studied the topic online and the basic conclusion was that this was going to be messy and could potentially damage the wall significantly.  We thought of covering it up, adding tiles that matched….nothing would work and we knew it.  With no time and lack of confidence in our skill we hired Mike from Pro2call and we were set.

We also needed a new counter desperately.  You can see in the above picture the odd corner bit of counter.  It had a weird seam where the two side pieces met an oddly shaped middle piece.  We couldn’t afford a stone counter, I wasn’t sure we could do concrete justice, I knew I’d ruin wood…so what could we do?

We searched and searched for a solution.  When Tim and John came into the picture they commented on my centre island.  I had painted the old wood IKEA island pictured above with chalk paint (you knew I’d get it in there somewhere) and attached a cracked ice formica tabletop I’d found when out thrifting.  The edging was vintage metal.  I loved it and it worked well enough (see photo below).  John wondered if we could source the metal edging and have them custom create a counter.

So off I went googling vintage counters and discovered that counters were often made of linoleum edged with metal.  Then I read this kitchen reno with these exact products. So off I went to Living Rooms, and eco friendly building store to see what they had in the way of Marmoleum, an eco friendly version.  I fell in love with the Lemon Zest colour!  Tim then sourced the metal edging and we were set.

See? It was messy. Only one wall was really damaged.  Mike repaired it no problem an dee painted over it.  Mike tiled with white subway tile from Home Depot and we decided to take it all the way up the wall behind the stove.  It is one of my favourite features.


Life went on during this reno…baking cookies when I had the kitchen all to myself.

IMG_20150604_161156Tim raised the counter height and installed the Marmoleum masterpiece that now had NO SEAMS!!!!  They reused our original sink and faucet after cleaning it up a bit and replacing the draining baskets. We changed out the pulls on the old drawers and I love the difference they made.

What else can I show you before I reveal the final product?  Well, as per the design pictures I shared in the last post, we needed more drawer space and so Tim built us a new bank of drawers on the other side of the stove.  This is where we were finally able to put in a true butcher block countertop.  I LOVE IT!!  And the drawers are slow close, something our vintage drawers are not.  The pulls allowed us to tie in with the old drawers.butcherblockwithhandlesOn the other side of the stove we had a weird gap.  This bit took a lot of thought.  Tim and John are geniuses though and they cut into the old cupboards and added a spice rack with a front that closely resembled the original “flat with round edges” look.  All pieces were painted in the same colour Jamie had used years ago.spicerackThe piece de resistance though is the unit they created around the fridge.  So much to show you there but I need to take pictures first.  For now, you’ll have to be content with these:

I think that’s as far as I can take it given I have no more pics to share.  I’ll take some soon so you can see it in all its glory.  Until then.

Kitchen Reno: the years in between

Facebook reminded me today that I had intended to document my disaster of a kitchen and our renos as they happened.  Years have passed since this post and this one. We covered the outdated colours and wallpaper, the awkwardly placed and aging appliances, how I managed to save the original hinges on the doors and finally, the discovery of the yellow formica under the contact paper.  When I left off, the next step was to have our friend Jamie come over and paint the cupboards.  We painted the walls and then did this:

plasticJamie took the doors to his workshop but the rest of the cupboards needed to be sprayed on site.  We had to move out for a bit but the new colour on the walls and the paint on the cupboards made the whole kitchen brighter and more enjoyable so it was worth it.  The pictures aren’t much but you get the idea:

kitchen cupboardsAway went the awkward cupboard.  The stove was still awkward and the oddly grouped appliance corner remained the same:

applianceRemember, these two corners looked like this:

fridge and dishwasher

the awkward stoveNot bad I’d say.  And there the reno stayed from quite a while.  I did manage a table and shelves near the back door and the next picture is the only one I have…Years passed and the roll-y dishwasher started to cut into the floor which was in terrible condition to begin with and we realized it was time to move forward.  But the awkward layout still posed challenges so, we tried different layouts:

layoutI was convince that this layout, proposed by our close friend, Chris, would never work.  I just couldn’t see it with the stove shoved in front of the door.  Maybe it was the state of the kitchen?  The bagels were delicious : ).  You can see how bad the flooring was though…


flooringAnd this is where I think we made our only mistake with the reno.  We put on peel and stick flooring.  It only took a few hours and it looked/looks great.

flooring type

flooringjoshWho knew vinyl tile could be grouted!  It still looks good, I just wish we could have afforded a better floor because we’ll have to deal with it eventually.  It’ll be a pain now that we have built in cupboards…but I’m getting ahead of myself…

behindstoveFirst we decided to follow Chris’s design advice and we took out the backdoor.  Thanks to our handy father-in-law, we were able to install our new to us stove (thanks Andrew and Jonathan) and vent a range hood.

behind stove 2Its fuzzy but you get the picture.  Oh and we bought a new fridge.

stoveAnd with the stove is a better spot we were able to install a dishwasher in the cupboard that was previously hidden.

dishwasherAnd that is where it was left once again for a good long time.  Until we met Tom and John and they saw the possibilities I was missing.  I’ll leave you with these drawings and then, soon, I’ll take pictures of their brilliance and share it with all of you.



Goodbye Christmas…

It is always bittersweet taking down all the decorations, the garlands, the tree.  This year it was particularly hard as I was quite in love with some of my handmades…

I took some pictures so I could remember and thought you might enjoy them too.

Solstice StockingsI’m particularly sad to see these babies packed away.  I’ve been wanting to make them for a while and finally got around to it this year.  I started in July and got sidetracked. I embroidered two of them while at a conference in November and of course I finished the last one two days before the holidays.  The pattern can be found in my favourite craft book of all time:

Scandinavian NeedlecraftYou can find other projects I’ve made from this book here (don’t worry I fixed it) and here.

Scandinavian Heart embroidery

Scandinavian Snowflake Embroidery

Scandinavian Snowflake Embroidery Christmas StockingWell, you can see why I love them can’t you?  They are so beautiful!  (as a side note, I had a good laugh while editing these photos.  Take a good look at some of the titles on the bookshelf…I hung this stocking in front of “All Family’s are Psychotic” LOL…that might tie in with some holiday celebrations non?).

pinecone garland

Pinecone garlandAnd I couldn’t resist taking this photo in the morning light (no editing I swear) of my favourite handmade holiday decoration.  I make one every year.  I collect the pinecones in the fall at my in law’s place. I also took a fallen branch or two from their forest and used them around the house and on the porch in the form of garlands and evergreen swags.  The pinecones I keep in a paper bag in the basement until December and they usually have opened nicely by then.  The orange slices I dehydrate in the oven the same day I make the garland using jute twine.   This year I hung it along a pine branch that I secured to the curtain rod in my front window.  I love how the light shines through the oranges like stained glass.

cedar wreaths with red ribbonMy second favourite decoration this year are these cedar wreaths I made using cedar branches I trimmed from our cedar shrubs in the front yard.  I really hated taking them down.  I love the way they looked and with them gone I can’t decide what to put in their place.  Any ideas?

cedar wreaths and juniper boughsI tucked some Juniper boughs into a basket my friend’s mom made me as a wedding gift.  Santa had a kind of Scandinavian look and I picked him up from my local VV.  The red wooden bead garland? VV.  The reindeer candle holders were also a find at VV and now that I am typing this, I can’t decide if they are my second favourite or not…no.  They are my third favourite for sure.  Mostly because it was a nightmare trying to put the candles in place without splitting them.  So they get third place…

Solstice mantle

IMG_2082Here is what they look like lit up.  So pretty.  The chalkboard (from HomeSense) did boast a chalk christmas tree but I erased it before I thought of taking any pictures.cedar wreaths in windowAnd finally, one of my very favourite handmades this year, cedar branches hot glued onto embroidery hoops hung with red ribbon at my kitchen window.  I loved waking up to this bright and cheery window every wintry morning.  It made me candle holderAnd this sat on my window sill.  I made a few of these apple candle holders and used them to light our Solstice dinner table.  I love the red of the apples…and the fact that most of my decorations will now find themselves in the compost heap and not the land fill. In fact I now only have one box of Christmas decorations to store.  Mostly ornaments and lights.

So while it was hard to take them down, I do like to start the new year with fresh walls and less clutter.

Here is to fresh starts!  Happy 2014 everyone!!

A winter’s day photoessay

I think every family who lives in this area has hundreds of pictures of the kids feeding chickadees.  It is such an endearing activity that it is quite a popular thing to do when one has family or friends visiting.  And so we ventured out on this warm winter’s day, hiked into the forest and waited…

hiking into the woods

We didn’t have to wait long…

chickadee in a tree

chickadee feeding from hand

feeding the chickadeesThe kids were oh so patient…

bird seed on headAnd they tried new tricks to entice the birds…including putting bird seed on your head.

bird callAnd trying out a bird call or two…

bird seed on headApparently putting bird seed on your head works.  But those birds are quick.  Too quick for my camera.

childhood wonderThe experience didn’t disappoint…

using binocularsWho can resist an opportunity to try out the binoculars your aunt and uncle sent you?

IMG_2297The watching and waiting pays off…

child in winterWe hike back…

bullrushes in winterTake in the scenery…

IMG_2312And meet new friends…

running and jumping in winterRun and jump…

ice on picnic tableAnd find new ways to make ice exciting…

ice playCrack it…

stacking iceAnd stack it…

running in winterAnd have a WONDERFUL time.

Hope your winter break has been relaxing and refreshing.  Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

The backyard part 2: The hideout.


If you read The Backyard: Part 1 then you will notice how sad and decrepid the tree branch hut looks in the above photo compared to earlier in the summer.  You might also notice that bush behind the hut looks decidedly less bush-like (and is lying in a pile next to the hut).  Hmmm, yes, that.  Well,  the girls had great plans for a hideout that was, uh, hidden by those bushes that were there but now aren’t.  You see, when we went to execute our plan of building a hideout that was behind and under said bushes we discovered that most of the bushes and trees back there were diseased or dead. That was a sad day.  I am not one to take down trees lightly but when one can rip off a tree limb with your bare hand, well…it is likely better to take it down than to have it fall and hurt someone playing in a hideout beneath.


So we went to work and made five trips to the dump….yes, five.  It was a work out.  And while J and I cleared the girls revised their plans.  More drawing ensued.  Plans now include planting bushes and trees in front of the hideout.  I hope they realize that might take some time…

While we were working we also put out a call for building supplies on facebook.  Friends came up with old fence panels, pallets, walls and left over decking and fencing, windows, roofing paper and shingles.  This was going from hideout to playhouse pretty fast.  Knowing how expensive those things can be we were a little reluctant but given how generous people have been we’ve been able to get going on this really fast and really cheap!  We borrowed trucks for pick up and had spontaneous dropoffs.  It has been wonderful and we are so grateful!


Probably the girls favourite pick up was going to get some real kid sized tool belts and hammers from Auntie T’s house to borrow for the duration of the build.  Straight to work they went.  The Missus reported to her grandfather that “hammering is hard work but it is a whole lotta fun too!”.


She also made sure to take breaks between hammering to make it more manageable!!


Have I mentioned yet in this post today how much I love my kids?  No?  Well let me tell you why I do.  I love them because nothing can box them in.  A tool belt is perfect for babywearing (why can’t moms work construction and bring their kids to work? There are no limits).  A construction site can still be beautified…why not find a bottle or a jar and pick some flowers from the garden while you work to ensure everyone has a glorious workspace?  (I mean really, why not?  We  should all do this before working in any setting.  I can dig these fresh-cut flowers, I can).


Whoa!  I thought you said this was a simple and cheap project Kelli, you exclaim.  It is, I respond.  All that lumber for the foundation?  Free.  The concrete patio blocks it is set on?  Free.  Seriously.  Ask friends or go on kijiji.  You will find stuff that people don’t want and they will be thrilled that you are going to come and take it out of their garage, basement or backyard.


What’s this?  The beginnings of the required and requested trapdoor.  Those bricks?  From the chimney we had removed from our house last year.  Wait, bricks?  Right.  A video on how to build a foundation on you tube said to do this to deter small animals from living under your foundation.  Time will tell if this was a good idea.


Can you see it?  The trap door I mean?  It is there.  Look harder.

trap door

There it is!  Perfect for hiding secret documents and supplies.


Fast forward a little.  The side wall is being covered in the boards from the old fence panels we were given.  They were a breeze to take apart even if taking out the nails was a little tedious.  The front wall is being covered in the remains of a wall from some other structure from someone else’s backyard.  It won’t cover the entire front but some of the wood from one of the free pallets is a pretty good match so we’ll use that to complete it.  This wall was harder to deconstruct as it was in rougher shape and some of the boards shattered or were too rotten when I took them apart.  Also note that pallets are fairly easy to find but come in varying shades of quality.  Choose wisely, ensure you have a skill saw available to you for the tear down and expect the deconstruction of a pallet to take some time and a whole lot of patience.  But that’s okay beacuse, hey, it is free right?

The posts on the porch area were rescued from a friend’s basement.  The lumber for the studs and roof were a mix of old and new.  Since I took apart walls and fences we reused most of the nails and people gave us some of their left over supplies from other projects (including from our backyard neighbour who we met when we removed the deadfall tree and we could finally see through to her yard….these projects really can bring people to together.  Did I mention we are grateful?


Here is the view from the front…

hideoutfrom the inside

And from inside.  It is really starting to shape up!  And we are all learning a lot.

hideoutharvestBreak time was spent raiding the garden…and it was extended for said snack inside the almost complete hideout…

We are still searching for materials to cover the last two walls.  We are determined not to break the bank doing this.  After we buy the plywood for the roof (remember we already have new to us roofing materials like shingles)  we estimate that we will have spent just over $300.  So we’ll be searching the free ads from wood scraps until we find enough to finish.

Stay tuned for The Backyard Part 3:  Making a hideout a hideout.  Pulley’s, trapdoors and periscopes oh my!

Love list from last week…

Life has been a blur lately.  My love lists are my way of remembering these little gems…

This week I loved…

1.  listening to my daughter whistle, sing and um, caw (oh my!) at the birds on our walk to school.  She told me it is not hard to talk to birds. One need only make their voice a little more “birdish” than usual.  She also confided that she is not 100% certain what she is saying to them but she is just as certain that they understand what she means.  Sometimes it is like my heart will burst…

2.  how much my girls enjoyed discovering Billy Joel as a musician.  Specifically and especially they seem to love “Uptown girl”.  There may even be a plan for the girls to dress as Christy Brinkley for Hallowe’en while their dad dresses up as Billy Joel the mechanic from the video.  I guess I’ll just hold the bags of candy, as three Christy Brinkleys would surely be too much.

3.  our evening family walks and snowball fights.

4. how angry Mrs. Iverson was on the morning of March 1st when she looked out the window and saw that there was still snow covering her grass.  Apparently she had been explicitly told at school that spring started in March and in the spring there would be grass…repeat this scene the morning of March 2nd.  Can’t wait for tomorrow.

5.  growing into my role as mama to someone who is not so very little anymore.  While I still feel like I have no idea if what I’m saying and doing is the right thing or not, I’m pretty excited (and relieved) to see what a kind, understanding and insightful young person she is growing into.

Sigh, life is busy and shows no signs of stopping for the next little while…I’ll take theses moments when I can get them : )

Finally a window seat…

For most of my life I have dreamed of having a window seat.  A place to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea, to dreamily stare out the window…and now I have one!  I suppose it isn’t a “real” window seat if you use a strict definition but I did make it myself and I’m calling it a window seat.  And as with all good do-it-myself projects this one took a few years to find all of the furniture pieces in it and of course it is only recently that we found this house that has the perfect window in it…

Unfortunately I did it again.  I forgot to take a really good before picture so this will have to do:

I found these babies at an estate sale a few years ago.   They were actually not for sale.  They were being used to hold up a piece of plywood that was acting as a table to display a bunch of smaller household items.  The gentleman running the place finally agreed to let me buy them…for $25 each!  They have worked well as storage for toys,games and dress up clothes but as you can see they are in rough shape (see the water stains down the front?).

Next up, I found this Ikea shelf much more recently at the local Salvation Army store for $10.  It didn’t have any other shelves other that the permanent one so we used the leftovers from the closet transformation.  We had to cut them to fit but they work well.  And yes, you guessed it the girls and I painted it white with…say it with me…Chalk Paint!

Then came finding some 2 inch foam at Joanne’s Fabrics while on a trip to the States this summer.  It was 50% off  so I got it for $32.  I wrapped it in batting as per the wonderful instructions I found by Pretty Handy Girl (hands down the best instructions of how to make a seat cushion out there!).  The batting I found at Fabricland during another 50% off sale so add another $15 to the price tag of this project.

Of course we’re going to need some fabric to make the cover with.  Now here is the thing friends.  I don’t know how other bloggers do it.  I have time to craft at night.  Period.  So my step by step pictures will always look like crap.  Truth be told, even in the day my house doesn’t have the best lighting for photography so my lot in life is to take crappy pictures for my blog and you my dear readers get to suffer through looking at them.  Sorry!  Can you just trust me that the fabric doesn’t actually look like that?  Thanks.

Here, this might help…a picture taken during daylight hours…I love this fabric!

There are only 6 pieces of fabric using this method but there is A LOT of pinning.  Made my own piping again using Miss Mustard Seed’s tutorial.  The cover for the cushion is also removable (used velcro for the first time) and therefore washable in the washing machine!  Yay because it is in a high traffic play area!


Once I finished the cushion I couldn’t resist taking a photo, I still needed to but up a new curtain rod, hem the curtains, put them up, apply soft wax to the newly painted furniture, take the tape off of the hardware etc…but after working for two nights on this I was ready to say done!


****updated November 26th 2012**** and since I wrote this post ages ago and because I still haven’t gotten around to taking a “good” photo of the finished project (and okay maybe it is also due to not hemming those curtains yet…and still not applying that soft wax, ahem), I’m going to post this now.  And it WILL motivate me to finish those things left undone.  Right?  : )


What are you making lately?




A Solstice surprise

I know that many of you were left wondering after my “This Moment” post earlier.  I must say the story of this doll house is one that really touched me.

I was approached by an acquaintance at KUF who asked if I might be interested in the doll house.  An older gentleman and his wife were looking to find it a good home.  It belonged to their daughter and as she is now 40 years old and has only boys it wasn’t something that would be passed down.  As it happens, I have been looking for exactly this kind of doll house for years!

And so I went to go see it.  It is just so precious.  The gentleman told me about how a friend with carpentry skills made it for his daughter for Christmas many years ago.   He was still painting it that Christmas Eve!  You can clearly see how thoughtful the person making it was.  The staircases, the railings…the perfectly chosen faux wood floors in the living room and bedroom, faux tile in the kitchen and bathroom and the velour “carpet” in the attic.  Even the wallpaper is on a scale that is perfect for this tiny house!

I was gushing with gratitude saying how I promised that my girls would take such good care of it when away he went again to find the accessories.  Accessories?  Oh my goodness, wait ’til you see…

Are you kidding me?  There was a side board for the kitchen, a letter writing desk (which actually works!), a grandfather clock and a cuckoo clock, a market basket, a canopy bed and a lamp that is actually wired for electricity!!

I mean for Pete’s sake!  Look at this phone!

This fireplace!  Have you ever seen anything like it?!  The bucket with the faux wood, the fireplace tools, not to mention the tiny silver tea set and those books!  Those are honest to goodness real books….with pages you can flip!

Clearly I couldn’t wait to set it all up when I got home and look at each and every precious piece.  Dust and all, I put the whole thing together taking notes on what needed repair and what needed doing (a new cover for the bed mattress is in order I do believe).

I would have died to have a doll bed like this as a kid.  Amazing.

So cozy!

Do I even need to tell you how much I love this cradle?  And this stroller?

Yep.  This is the bathroom.  It has a soaker tub.  Goodness.

The bedroom!  Doesn’t it look like it is out of a magazine or something?

Another adorable fireplace and this lamp…clearly, I need to look into wiring and electrical for miniature houses!

And that completes our house tour.  What do you think?  Will the girls love it or what?  I was really and truly touched by this generosity.  The exchange was finished with a handshake and a heartfelt Merry Christmas.  Merry Christmas indeed.  I’ve been thinking of ways to pay it forward ever since.