Walls, Floors and Trim – Part 4

The drywallers came in and gave us some new walls! The dust that sanding drywall mud creates is just as fine as plaster dust, but it doesn’t spread as far as the plaster dust did.

The fan shown in this photo will be moved to another room. These old fans with only four blades are definitely unique to the era and we like the look of it when it has its schoolhouse globe on!

Next the whole space got primed.

The blue tape shows the drywaller the areas he needs to finesse before the paint goes on.

Let’s just say that my attention to detail is far more acute than the drywallers! Eventually we made it through the touch ups, but this portion of the job was agonising.

Just the ceiling to go!

And now for the floors.

I mentioned that my husband and I decided to do the floors ourselves in the first post of this One Room Challenge™. series.  As a reminder here is what they looked like.

All of the grey is glue from a previous surface glued to the hardwood. Our floor sanding crew was myself, my husband, my brother and my neighbour.

This is me in the adjoining living room sanding this room at the same time as the kitchen. This is one of the machines we used.

Floor sanding causes the worst dust out of all the dusts I’ve introduced to you so far! As the fine wood dust lands on your skin it sucks the moisture right out of it. I changed my face mask nearly every hour as the fine particulates would clog it right up.

This sweeping compound helped keep the dust on the floor while sweeping between each sand.

It’s getting there. The grey you can still see on the floor is glue still stuck on the floor. Because this home is so old, the wood on the floors is cupped, which basically means some areas are lower than others and we must use different tools to remove the remaining glue.

Ready for stain!

Now before you say, “wait a sec Lora, you missed a spot!” I opted to leave the portion in the top left corner as is, as it will be under the cabinet. Seriously the glue removal was something else!

Here is the stain going on. Floor staining is rather meditative for the first 30 minutes, after that my inner child starts whining, “are we done yet?” Ha!

Here is that same shot of the bare floors now with stain and poly on it!

And on to the Trim!

When the wood trim was removed, it came apart in pieces.

Some of it was salvagable, but most of it wasn’t. A big part of the charm of this Folk Victorian is the millwork! The entryway, living room and study all have this same gorgeous trim.

I went down to a wood shop that specialises in architectural trim and they had a knife already cut that is so close to the original it would be hard to tell them apart. See photo below.

The new trim arrived and got installed.

I’ve also chosen my granite slab and had it laid out at the granite suppliers.

Here it is, you totally guessed right! The movement in this particular slab “had me at hello”, so I was 90% sure I would choose this one. In fact, immediately after seeing the cabinet maker and seeing the samples I called the granite supplier and asked her to hold that particular slab for me!

That’s it for this week in the One Room Challenge™.  Next week we’ll have the electricians installing the lights and appliances, and the cabinets and granite counters will get installed.  I’m busy doing the final painting and making some live edge floating ash shelves.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.




Did you miss previous posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – You just read it!

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen

PS – I’ve gone back and forth a few times on the paint colour for the trim. What do you think would you paint them light or dark?

Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC – Part 3

I find it fascinating how a house works from the internals out and incorporating the parts we see (switches, faucets and lighting) to be an integral part of the design process. I liken wiring, plumbing and HVAC lines to be similar to veins and arteries in our bodies.

I mentioned in my first post in this  One Room Challenge™  Series that my Dad was coming down to help me run the line sets, for the mini split HVAC system — here we go!!

Line sets are two copper pipes covered in insulation that carry the Freon from the large condensing units outside to the small head units placed in each room, an electrical wire, and a line to drain the condensate the small head units make. See image below.

Here is a short video of me feeding a line set through a wall. It was three seconds long, but I slowed it down to show 10 seconds.

My husband was in the crawlspace feeding the line up through the floor, as he would feed it through I (who was on the first floor) would pull it up from the floor then our friend who was on the second floor would feed it from his floor and my dad would pull it up into the attic. The whole time each person would need to speak to the person above or below them, but we had to shout to be heard through the thick walls!

We installed all 8 line sets, with four lines running through the kitchen walls. It took a lot of persistence, this old house has some massive wood used as studs!!


Then, I labelled each line at each small head unit as well as in the basement where they will be connected to the two outdoor condensing units.

It’s taken the electricians 3 weeks to install all of the rough-in electrical throughout the whole house and some of the kitchen wiring will happen after the cabinets are installed.

The drywallers will be in next to repair the holes the electricians had to make in various rooms, along with adding new sheetrock throughout the kitchen where the wood paneling and plaster was removed.

These wires are for our disposal and outlet by the kitchen sink.

And here is the plumbing getting stubbed out for the sink and dishwasher.

Speaking of sinks….

I went to the granite supplier and looked at the slabs that they had available and while I was there I checked out their sinks so that we could decide on the configuration we wanted. Initially I was going to just do the standard 50/50 sink, but as I like to cook and make preserves I decided to go with the 60/40 sink as it’s larger and deeper than a standard 50/50. In the 70/30 or 30/70 sink a full size plate wouldn’t fit flat like you see in the 60/40 sink image below so that sealed the deal for me!

Counters and Cabinets

The cabinet dimensions are all sorted and now I have to choose a colour! I find white cabinets to be beautiful in principal, but in our family where we actively cook and make messes, I’ve found that it bothers me to no end when the cabinets don’t get wiped down after every meal. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense!

Image #1 shows the picture I sent to the cabinet makers. Image #2 is one of the samples the cabinetmaker did for me, along with a few cabinet pull selections. They got pretty close and are doing a darker sample for me too!

Image #3 and #4 are the two granite types I’ve narrowed my options down to.

What do you think, will I choose the white granite or the black granite?


Next week, I’ll share some of the pantry, the drywall and some lighting fixtures  along with some more progress in the One Room Challenge™.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™.



Did you miss other posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC – You Just read it!

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen

Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust, Oh My – Part 2

I’ve lived in homes with some of the worst (aka) tiny kitchens out there. I’ve always been able to make them work, but let me tell you, having a custom kitchen designed for you is the BOMB!

For the kitchen to be functional for both my husband and I we each need separate workstations. We’ve found that having hers and his cutting boards, frying pans, knives,  pantry shelves and even drawers to be the answer to continual wedded bliss.

This week in the One Room Challenge™ I’ll be sharing some layout options we considered and showing you some progress! Check out the previous post here.

I always like to do five or six design iterations before paring them back and choosing the best two concepts to present  to the client. This 14′ x 15′ room (at the largest part of the bay window)  presents several layout challenges with its three doorways, one built-in pantry, one fireplace and three low to the floor windows.

Even when inside I like feeling a connection to nature.  I designed several layouts with the counters in front of the low windows (25″ from the floor). I know most people would take out the 100 + year old windows and upgrade them to energy efficient with a low E coating, but I feel that the wavy glass and the wood in the original double hung windows to be essential to how this 100 year old home feels. As the counter height is 36″, each window has a 10″ “planter box” inset into the counter/cabinet area to ensure that the counter and cabinets look like they belong in front of the window.

Here is a layout showing this style:

As pricing came back for this layout, it was more expensive than I originally thought. In this layout below I took out the counters and cabinets along the bay window wall and enlarged the island. Next I laid it out on the actual floor to see how it flowed in real life.

The tape lines on the far left of the image show the counter as a standard 24″ wide counter and as a 30″ counter. The short tape lines near the island layout show how the island could shift over.

The two pictures above are opposite views of the layout. The island will definitely have to be shortened to allow flow from the living room to get by the fridge.

Next, I consulted with the cabinet makers to decide on the layout of the drawers and shelves before finalising the design.

Here is a rendering of the layout while we are deciding on the final details.

Did I mention that we are living in our Reno????

No, I don’t think that’s come up yet. We set up a campstove for our “reno kitchen” in our two room living space, purchased a brand new fridge and had it delivered (twice, but that’s a story for another post) and we settled in, as much as you can in a roughing it situation!

Work has started the wood paneling was removed along with the plaster and lath walls! Plaster dust is one of the finest dust that I’ve discovered so far in our renovation adventures.

I used a shop vac to remove as much dust as I could, but then I ran my trusty hoover around the room too! Only use your home vacuum for renovation dust if you are prepared to replace it — the fine dust gets into the engine and will kill it. At this point in the renovation I am prepared to buy as many vacuums as needed!

This is as clean as I am able to make this room. Plaster bits continue to fall.

The plaster dust seeps its way into our living quarters and everything is covered in a fine layer of dust. Woo hoo, welcome to renovation living!

We did have a happy surprise though — there is beautiful brick above the mantle! I should say, that it will be beautiful once it’s cleaned up!

Here is a panoramic shot of the kitchen. I am standing between the french doors and the fireplace.

Yes, that is knob and tube wiring you see! We opted for a full rewire of the entire house!

We were very happy to see the blown in insulation on the outer walls!

Next week, I’ll share some of the pantry, as that is part of my participation in One Room Challenge™, along with some more progress!

The next steps in this room is getting the plumbing roughed in, the electrical roughed in and the HVAC linesets run through the walls while they are opened up.

Don’t forget to check out what the  selected designers and other guests  are up to in the One Room Challenge™



Did you miss other posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust – You Just Read It
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC 

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale – Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen


Adding a Kitchen in a Light Filled Folk Victorian – Part 1

“How about you just put the kitchen where the old kitchen was?”

Every contractor that walked through the old Folk Victorian house asked me this question.

My internal gut reaction every time was “No, no, no, no, no — Just no”.

The old kitchen was in smallest room at the back of the house with only one window and the back door entered directly next to the old sink — can you say awkward?

I’ve lived in plenty of homes where everyone would squish into the tiny kitchen even though I’d made a concerted effort to create other gathering areas. It’s like a magnet. The kitchen always becomes the main gathering space.

The kitchen is the heart of a home and for me it needed to feel inspiring, calm and be beautiful.

The room I chose to be the kitchen was likely the dining room at one point as it had a built in pass through directly from the pantry. I’ll talk more about the layout next week, but what hooked me immediately were the three very large bay windows on one wall, overlooking greenery outside.

Here is how we found this room when we first saw it:

Dark, dusty and needing some vision.

It’s easier to visualise possibility with the sheets moved 🙂

This is the left side of the room if you are facing the glorious windows, and the door leads to the front entryway. Also shown is the one of six fireplaces in this Folk Victorian home!

That fake wood panelling is something else, right? And yes, the previous owner had started renovating upstairs and had brought in these terrible cabinets that he was going to use in the kitchen!

Beside the fireplace are french doors leading into the living room. Here I am measuring, before we had closed on the house!

On the right side of the room is the built in pantry, with the pass through from the walk-in pantry.


I won’t go into all of the details in this post, but the only way we were able to obtain a mortgage on this property was through a renovation loan, called a 203K loan because the home had no kitchen and no heat and therefore deemed unlivable!

In order to close on this property we had to have our general contractor submit a full bid for the work, which meant I needed to design the kitchen, the bathroom, decide the full scope of work we wanted completed and choose where every single outlet, light and switch needed to go so the contractors could give us an accurate bid.

In October 2017 I designed five or six potential layouts for the kitchen and as our bids came in I revisited the design. The closing process on a 203K is extremely long as there are a lot of people and paperwork involved. January 3rd, 2018 we closed on the home and work started mid January.

The One Room Challenge

I had heard of the one room challenge, where selected designers and guests tackle one room start to finish in a six week period. I signed up on a whim yesterday as a guest challenger mostly because I had been putting off getting my website started and sharing behind the scenes progress.

Now that the end is in sight for our reno, this is the perfect time to keep on keeping on with the detail work. I’ll be showing you the kitchen and pantry over the next month or so.

Here are (some) of the inspiration photos that I gathered before starting in on the design.


Photo Credits: 1 -Ljusa Drommar Pa Landet, 2 – Smith Hanes Studio, 3 – The Little Green.com 4 – Cassie at Hi Sugarplum 5 – Effie Genovese 6 – Unknown 7 – Lilla Blanka

Image 1: I want to pull in the Scandinavian influences with its white backdrop, plants-a-plenty and natural elements such as wood, sunlight and candles.

Image 2 & 6: Have open floating shelves like image two, but make them out of live edge wood like in image six.

Image 3: Shaker style cabinetry because of it’s simplicity and ease of cleaning. I’m very drawn to the medium dark grey so that it hides dirt, but I am considering various shades of blue cabinetry too.

Image 4: The drama of the tile and the brilliant red carpet — oh yummy!

Image 5: Dark counters and the range in the island so that you are looking at your guests as you do your last final meal prep.

Image 7: This is the feeling of calm inspiration. Can you imagine yourself standing with a glass of wine or cup of tea staring out the window at the birds?


What’s involved with our project and who’s doing the work

As we are doing a full house renovation, I’m going to detail what work went on in the kitchen.

General Contractor  – Remove wood panelling, all the trim around the windows, doors (there are three) and built-in pantry.

Save wood trim to put back up.

Install drywall and mud, and bring up to paint ready.

Put wood trim back up.

Install new custom cabinets, counters, plumbing, all new electrical, hang lights and install the appliances.

Replace a couple of broken windows.

Lora and crew:

All design, colour choices, finishes and decor.

Re-do the sash cords on the windows. Fortunately my neighbour is an experienced carpenter and taught me how to rehang the weights that help the window to move.

Install lines for ductless mini-splits. My dad is a retired HVAC installer and he came down to give us guidance and help running the line sets to the 8 head units. Only one is in the kitchen. My mom and uncle also came down from Canada to give us a hand.

Prime and paint all surfaces in the interior. The house had primarily been vacant for the previous 10 years or so and every single surface needed cleaning before priming and painting. It took two of us 6 weeks to paint the ceilings, walls, windows, doors and fireplaces. There are still touch ups ongoing and I still feel a little ill when I see my “painting pants”!

For some crazy reason, my husband and I decided that we would restore the floors ourselves. The floors are a hard yellow pine, and in the kitchen and living room they were covered in glue which made sanding especially difficult in these two rooms.  The grey you see on the floor is the glue. So all of the floor!

After that, stain and poly the floor.

I am making the shelves from a slab of ash along with a moveable table which becomes an extension of our island. The open shelves will be mounted so that they are floating which means you can’t see the hardware that attaches them to the wall.

Make and install pantry shelves and all items in the the walk-in pantry.

Install the backsplash.

Also whatever miscellaneous projects that are sure to come up.

Next week I’ll show you the layout options I considered, what we decided on and some progress images!

One full year later, we are in the midst of the whole house renovation, and we are very happy it’s coming to an end!

This is what my kitchen ceiling looked like this morning, and it’s nicely patched up this evening. Even with great contractors, accidents happen!

In the meantime, you should definitely check out what other designers are up to in the One Room Challenge™


Want to check out other posts in this series? Check them out here.

Week 1 – Adding a Kitchen – The Before – You just read this one
Week 2 – Kitchen Layouts and Plaster Dust
Week 3 – Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Week 4 – Walls, Floors and Trim

Week 5 – Cabinets, Counters and Lights

Week 6 – The Finale, Light Filled Folk Victorian Kitchen