Living in Renos

Living in Renos

We moved in to our house three years ago and I am so thankful for this amazing spot!  It was a power of sale home and although it was in decent condition we knew we had work to do.  We have done a lot of renovations but… it has a long way to go.  People often say to me ‘I don’t know how you do it’ or ‘ I could never live like that’ and frankly I don’t know how I do it and I also never thought I could live like this.  I am going to be honest and show you the complete mess we live in at times!  Why?  Because I think all of us have situations we consider less than ideal and when we look at other peoples lives through the lens of  social media or even from our own perspectives they seem to have it all together, all the time.   

My past renovation posts include before and after pictures.  Looking from one picture to the next almost gives the impression that a room transformation occurs instantly.  When in reality, it is many weeks, months and even years of waiting and saving.  Then weeks of demolition and months of putting it back together (or in our case sometimes years getting that last piece of trim up!). 

The past three years the main floor has been relatively untouched.  Although we have done a lot of work inside, outside, and down at the bunkee.  It sometimes feels like we are in the middle of a really long dark tunnel, and I am not seeing the light at the end!
Many days our front porch looks like this. (pic below)  Obviously, this is a far cry from the welcoming front porch I envision but the reality is transformation is a process and it doesn’t always look pretty!

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I must be a dreamer though, because I can look at the picture above and see all that it is going to be!  A beautiful welcoming home with established hydrangea’s (of course it’s summer in my imagination!) 

The plans are for a new front door (this spring).  Well, actually an old wood door refinished.  I would like to replace the shutters with cedar ones (this summer).  Eventually, the siding will be replaced and we will wrap the house in white wood siding. 

Before any of that begins though, we will be replacing our roof with a metal one.  This winter melt we had water running into many parts of our house!  Including some of the redone rooms!  I know right!!!  Charlotte’s ceiling has paid the price (pic to the left).  I had been hoping to feature her room in one of my upcoming blogs.  Now it debuts in this post, but not quite how I had hoped!  Derrick spent many hours shovelling all the snow and ice off to stop the leaks and limit the damage.  So…now we get to redo Charlotte’s room.  And fingers crossed no others!

Then, if all that was not enough, I decided to randomly tackle removing the hall closet.  (pics below)  Why I thought this was a good idea I don’t know.  Pretty much after the first few holes in the drywall I was ready to call it done, but I had to somewhat finish the job.  Basically, that meant removing the rest of the drywall.  Now the closet sits like this.  Waiting till we have access to the in law suite when we will create a walk in hall closet.  It will look great and be a game changer for our family of six.  But… I may have jumped the gun on this one!

Okay, and here the truth comes out about how you can scew reality on social media.  The picture of the tea and muffin I took after I had made a batch of really healthy muffins.  (They were great, by the way!)  The vignette looks pretty Pinterest worthy if you ask me.  The second picture is the reality of this room.  A far cry from the room you imagined I was eating my muffin in, right!?!  Half a ceiling torn down, missing drywall, misplaced throws and pillows, that I find myself constantly attempting to straighten, and an empty incubator waiting for chicken eggs!  Yup that’s right we are going to attempt hatching chicks amongst all this chaos! 

It is hard to live in this reality when you and your husband know how you want it, but it takes time to get there.  And honestly, there should be no shame in the process.  Yes it is slow.  Yes it is filled with construction mess.  Yes it is filled with everyday life mess.  But I would not give up the process.  It is slow because we have chosen to put family first and sometimes that means leaving only a portion of Saturday afternoon for renovations.  It is filled with construction mess because we have chosen to take our house and customize it specifically to our families needs and taste (well maybe mostly my taste!).  It is filled with everyday life mess because we have been blessed abundantly with four beautiful children!

The process has also provided countless learning experiences for our children, which include some of their favourites; helping with demolition and using power tools.

I posted this picture on instagram (on the right) and I had several people ask what we were renovating!  What next?  Well that is a good question…I would like to say the main floor and then poof post before and after pictures of our amazing renovation transformation.  But as we all know rarely does it happen that way.  Yet on instagram, facebook and blogs that is exactly how it comes across, even in my own posts.  I love seeing those pictures and reading those blogs but today I decided to share this post of well…basically…nothing. 

By no means is this a post to find blame for our current lack of progress.  I am super proud of the work we have done.  We continue to work on projects, although sometimes at a snails pace.  Over Christmas, Derrick (with the help of some family) installed a beam.  Allowing us to open up the living room to the kitchen a little more.  We also started putting up whitewashed pine ceiling in the living room.  The rest of the ceiling is on standby until we rework some other main floor walls.  Last Christmas, Derrick and I created a semi custom built in with Ikea cabinets for our computer and tv.  We still need to add crown moulding at the top and trim on the bottom to finish it off, but it turned out great.

Our kitchen is also awaiting a total remodel.  I am down to two stovetop burners, have been cooking without a kitchen timer since we moved in and now the element went in the oven.  To say my kitchen skills and joy for cooking have taken a down turn would be an understatement!  I find it hard to motivate myself to prepare great meals for my family!

Posted on my fridge are some rough drawings of what I hope the new kitchen will somewhat look like.  By no means am I an artist but these sketches give me an idea.  I will save telling you all the details about how we are going to do it but basically it involves taking up more space from the bedroom behind where the stove is now.  The tile will be subway tile with black grout, which is actually called offset.  We like the tiles halved over each other not thirds.  The fridge and the range will be white.  I am not sure about the counter or the cupboard finish.  If you have an opinion I would love to hear it!  Originally, I had thought white but have again been drawn to the idea of black cabinets.  Right now it is really trendy, but… about 6 years ago I had a picture of how I wanted my previous kitchen to look and it had black lower cabinets.  I liked it then and I still seem to like it.  Also, we are most likely going to be going with Ikea cupboards and they do not offer white wood doors but do offer black solid wood doors.  And I have it stuck in my head that I want wood doors even if they are painted!  I also really want bench seating in the dining room.  Ideally it will be a rustic wood corner bench.

Like when I designed our upstairs bathroom I had a vision of creating a space that reminded me of my Grandma’s farm.  For my kitchen my mind travels back to meals spent at my Aunt Hettie and Uncle Theo’s house.  They had a corner bench around their dining table.  I have pleasant memories of being squished with 6 other kids around that table eating mac and cheese with cut up hotdogs and ketchup.  Warmed by the cozy wood stove and ambient lighting.  This is what I want to create for my kitchen and dining room.  I am not looking for perfection, a chef’s dream, or something sterile (anyone who’s washed dishes with me can attest to that!).  But I am seeking to create a space that fosters long cozy conversations around the dinner table.  A kitchen that welcomes little hands to help in the process of preparing food.  A room that is open and flexible to hosting large family and friend gatherings, because there is always room for one more!  I LOVE designing rooms that speak specifically to the people who live in the space and how they like to live life.

This is an honest glimpse of where we are at.  Sometimes it is easier to talk about where you have been when you are on the other side.  You can look back and see that the hard work, constant living amongst a pile of tools and debris, and frustration was worth the reward.  But sometimes… we will still be stuck right in the mess and it is okay to share when we are in those times too.

And although our guests currently may not enjoy sitting on our main floor toilet for fear of falling through.  One day I know that seat will be one of the best spots in the house!

P.S.  Have I told you how thankful I am that despite whatever mess we have going on in another part of the house I can always come and rest in this amazing retreat!  I absolutely love the shadows the light casts on the wall! 

The sketch in the frame on the left is a Christmas present from my husband (who by the way totally spoiled me this Christmas).  It is an amazing sketch of our house done by a really talented local artist Aaron Sheild.  He sketched this picture from a few photos Derrick had given him of our house and did an amazing job!   When the main floor is done it will find a home down there.

We have begun the trek into the awful dust, mess, debris, chaos, and demolition of taking apart our house and then slowly piecing it back together.  Eventually, we will claw our way out of the chasm and emerge victorious in a beautifully designed home that we got to create ourself.  When the job is complete it will be easy to look back and justify the means.  This post unfortunately does not have the end in sight.  Some days it is hard to understand why we have chosen this path.  This is our authentic life and all it entails. Through it all we are growing and learning.  Trusting that one day we will reach the top of this hill and (knowing us) will look to the next mountain top with invigorating excitement!

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Oh Christine, you are living my life except when it comes to the balance of family time and renovations. You are raising kids in an amazing atmosphere and teaching them the value of what is truly important. Love this post and all it’s honesty!

  2. Dear Christina, I can relate to the trials of renovations (or building). It has been over 53 years since we started and Pake still has lots to do! But now he’s taking it a little easier (at 85) as we enjoy our big family SO MUCH!! Remember, Derrick has to provide for his family just as Pake did and you are a big help to him, and you have to take care of a family of 6, and work outside your home. I admire you greatly and love you all dearly. The Lord is SO GOOD!! With Love, Beppe

    1. Thanks Beppe!…and I think taking it ‘easy’ at 85 is reasonable!

  3. Love it Christina!! Before I saw the kitchen sketches I was hmm I like the idea of the black/dark lower cabinets, with white cabinets & maybe some open shelving up top! Which looks like your sketches! Whatever you do, it will look amazing ❤

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