Reno2004 – Day 2

The contractors didn’t show up today. First they said they’d be here at noon, then they called at 3 to say it would be tomorrow. Not a great start. Yesterday was very productive, but Lori says to expect to see a lot of progress at first, and then a slow-down. I guess it’s easy to tear stuff out. Tomorrow the hardwood flooring starts, and the new archway in the kitchen. The lights are ordered, and the electrical should be roughed in within a few days…

Photos from Reno Eve and Day 1

First we painted the kitchen wall. It was fun; we should finger-paint other parts of the house!. Jasper did a great job. He called his painting”smoke.” Suzy helped. She hates this photo — but I say that’s what a 6-month pregnant woman looks like! Jasper’s just learning to swing a hammer. He is learning quickly, though we had to remind him that he is only allowed to smash certain walls! Then he went to bed. And the contractors arrived early to take out the walls and floor — leaving us with a hole where the kitchen was.


Hey, you broke my wall!

Swing that hammer!

“I’m ceasing to film this orgy of destruction.

Genesis of a Kitchen Reno

The toughest part of home renovation is getting started. First come the piles of magazines, library books and friendly unsolicited advice. Suzy and I wanted to renovate our 1965 kitchen by partially knocking out a wall between the existing box-like 12’x15’ kitchen and the living/dining room. The problem was, how to do this without making the room look like a VIA Rail dining car (long and narrow). It also meant incorporating a messy family space into a semi-formal living space. Suzy didn’t seem to consider this a factor, but I didn’t want to see dirty dishes from the livingroom couch. The clutter doesn’t fit my image of evenings spent by the fire with a smoking jacket and a snifter. So suddenly our little reno became a restructuring of half of the main floor of our house.

To do this right, we decided to hire an architect. Finding someone who can interpret napkin sketches, magazine tear-sheets and ill-defined waving of hands in the air is not easy. And it’s expensive. We found Christopher Simmonds’ card at a local school jumble sale. We checked out his site and liked his style.

Start your reno with a plan. It’s worth the investment. Call Christopher Simmonds, architect.

We liked him, and once we agreed to proceed with design sketches, it felt like we were actually serious about the reno. It had to be. After Christopher patiently listened to us, showed us some books, and watched me wave my arms in the air, the four sheets of paper that he delivered to us a week later cost $1000. We were on our way to a new kitchen.

See the concept design here.

Another factor in renovation is how much it may add to the value of the house. You don’t want to put a $60k granite-countertop kitchen in a bungalow, for instance. And with Ottawa real estate prices already soaring, we wanted to know if the concept we had in mind would sell in our neighbourhood. So we invited our favourite real estate agent over for coffee. Jim McKeown is a partner and owner at Coldwell Banker Rhodes and Co. in Ottawa. He found this house for us in 1999. Jim popped by, checked out the plans, and gave us the thumbs up. According to Jim, we could get back 75-80 cents on the dollar of the reno investment in a resale. Good news.

Need a great real estate agent? Call Jim McKeown.

Still, we needed help. Combining two rooms meant choosing the style of cabinets, blending the hardwood floor, finding innovative lighting, picking paint and tile and fixtures and a countertop. We suck at this. So we hired another designer, a project consultant who would manage us through all the decisions that needed to be made. Then she bungled the estimate and turned Christopher’s creative sketches into terribly boring draft plans. So we fired her.

Thankfully, we quickly found another design consultant. And it was worth the wait and the grief. Lori Steeves has is the owner/operator of Simply Home Design. She initially came to our aid as a colour consultant (our other designer had made us realize that the colours we’d painted our house were “garish and boring.”). Then we realized that Lori would be a great project consultant. Again, it was all about being able to talk to her. When she came into our house for the first time, she saw the slate floor in the hall and confessed to us, “I think I can work with you.” And when I said “asymetrical arch over the island,” I could see in her eyes that she knew what I meant. A-men.

Need a colour consultation? Want a renovation consultant? Call Lori.

The next step was to turn Christopher’s concepts into a detailed plan. Lori hired a draftsperson for us. He visited several times to measure and remeasure, making sure the lights, plugs, the island clearance, Internet jacks, etc. would all be in the right place. The final drawings left nothing to chance. We hoped this stage would spare us surprises in the construction phase.

That started today …

Stay tuned

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