Category Archives: Save My Reno

Save My Reno: Karen + Matt’s Main Floor Facelift

This was hands-down one of my favorite renovations of the season.

Not only was it the closest to my personal style, but we were able to address an entire floor of a house, and anytime you can takeover that many rooms is a good time in my books. Missed this episode? Watch it here! Then continue for all the juicy tidbits.

For Karen and Matt, square-footage and function weren’t huge issues. More-so, they disliked what the space looked like and how it flowed. Having previously lived in a condo, their furniture was dwarfed—and there wasn’t enough of it—and when it came to the colours and materials in the space, they were pretty, well, un-pretty: butter yellow walls, old stairs that were falling apart, and black counters and blonde wood cabinets didn’t speak to their taste in the kitchen.

As for the floorplan and flow, they craved open-concept for better nightlines for their two adorable kids. Sounds like a job for these cool cats…

With $60,000 to work with for an entire main floor, we had to get a little creative. The solution? Re-use as many aspects as we could and spend the money where it would really count. Our plan involved reconfiguring and re-using their existing cabinets, spraying them out in a rich deep green, updating the counters and hardware, finding savings with end-of-the-roll textiles and DIY projects, and spending the rest on removing the wall, updating their furniture, and giving them the fireplace and extra storage they so desperately needed. Something that didn’t get shown in the episode was the main-floor powder room renovation we did as well. And yes, which we included in the final cost of $60k!

Demo was quick and mostly painless (although carrying out the appliances and in-tact cabinets and climbing inside the base cabinets to unscrew the countertop left me so sore the next day). To everyone’s surprise, Karen chose to stay with Sebastian to handle construction, which meant an apprehensive Matt was coming with me to handle design. Honestly, they were both such good sports and super hilarious, so it would have been win-win either way.

On the design side of things, Matt cracked me up. A man after my own heart, he too was a pun-master like yours truly, and in a world where dad-jokes don’t always land, we found each other very humorous—which was helpful in our case because he really had no idea what he was doing! Matt, admittedly, didn’t give much thought to design, so I had to get interactive in order to step up his game (see what I did there? What did I tell you)…

Jokes aside, a very real drama moment happened when we discovered that their existing staircase couldn’t be salvaged. We had planned to outfit their existing stairs with new treads and a railing, but the whole thing had to come down for safety reasons. In my opinion, while it was an added cost, it was totally worth it in the end and gave us the opportunity to find something really show-stopping and unique.

As you can see from my floorplan drawing on the left, the powder room was tucked behind the right wall of cabinets. Initially, the door to the room was at the back of the house in the kitchen, and in the reno plan, we flipped the bathroom so it was less off the kitchen and more off the living/dining area.

Using the stringers (essentially the sides of a staircase that hold the risers—see below) from their old staircase, Matt and I transformed them into a storage bench for the entryway and outfitted it with a cushion top made from the same fabrics used throughout the main floor to add some design continuity. It blended the old charm and history of the 100 year-old home with some new pretty aspects. I love how this DIY turned out!

(Watch the whole DIY video here!)

And those stairs! Ugh! We may have spent and extra 3k for them, but it was well worth it in the end. Not only do the stairs going up look great, but we nixed the way leading downstairs and installed glass so the room feels wider and lets light into the stairwell.

In just a few short weeks this home went from basic, sparse and chopped-up to open, eclectic, layered and show-stopping. It looked like a cool New York loft or Paris flat. One of my favorite aspects has to be that we used a variety of patterned fabrics and textiles. A lot of people think of curtains, drapes, shades and pillows as afterthoughts, but they not only add depth, visual interest and function, they have a way of making any space feel finished.

Most of the fabrics we sourced for the entire show were through Tonic Living (full source list below). But really, the real beauty of this space was the reaction it conjured from Karen and Matt:

         

And you remember that bathroom I was talking about? Here’s a little slice of it. I love that we continued the spotted motif in here, too:

  

How ’bout them apples? Be sure to check out all the before and after photos on HGTV.ca, get my tips for mastering an open floor plan and peep this super-cool 360° tour of the room from Seb and I.

Get The Look:

  1. Graphic Black and White Ottoman
  2. Flock Pillow and fabrics: Swaying Palms and Dalmation
  3. Neutral Wingback Chair
  4. Glass + Brass Pendants
  5. Cream Club Sofa
  6. Gold Decorative Accents
  7. Green Artwork
  8. Buffalo Check Rug
  9. Marble + Wood Cutting Boards

Save My Reno: David and Wemi’s Transitional Townhouse Kitchen

Save My Reno: Dave and Wemi's Transitional Townhouse Kitchen

From basil gone rogue and last-minute changes, to glass cabinets and graphic roman blinds, this renovation was one of the first (and arguably, easiest) projects of the season.

David and Wemi’s kitchen was a classic case of boring and uninspiring builder-grade, but anything but boring was how I felt when we found out David bought the house without Wemi seeing it! While his intentions were sweet, he attempted to redeem himself by making some DIY upgrades to the space, but after a failed spice-rack project that came chasing at our feet, they needed all the help they could get. The good news was that they had some creative ideas, the bad news was they didn’t know how to see it through properly. Lucky for them, Seb and I came to the rescue. (Watch the full episode here! For a shopping guide and fun links to extras, head to the bottom of this post!)

The space was not only tiny, but the awkward half-wall closed it off completely from the living area. In a case like this where you’re dealing with an entire floor that has a small footprint, the best thing you can do is take down all the walls between spaces, use the same flooring throughout, and allow the furniture and permanent fixtures to define areas.

But one issue we ran into was: how much money is worth investing in a townhouse? It’s important to be economical and realistic in such a case, so 30k was the absolute max budget to transform the entire main floor.

But before we could start designing and furnishing, we had to deconstruct. Luckily, the demo was quick and painless and we were able to get home before the sun set, but not before David announced that he wanted to team up with Seb to redeem himself from his DIY spice rack!

On the design side of things, Wemi tagged along with me as we went through the design process. Everything was running smooth and we were all on the same page—heck, Wemi and I even had our countertop selection synced up intrinsically—and that’s when David threw us a curve-ball: Our design had our countertop run drop down into a live-edge wood dining table for more intimate family dining. But David changed his mind last-minute and asked that we nix the drop-down table and keep the counter running straight across, flush to the end. They simply wanted to be able to clean the surface easily and have more prep-space, so c’est la vie! As a designer, I’m not shy of changes, so if it makes them happy, we we’re going to make it happen. The only issue? The live-edge slab was already paid for and made.

Luckily, with some creative thinking, were able to transform the slab into floating walnut shelves and keep it in the kitchen design in its reincarnated form! To do this, I had Wemi come into the studio to lend me a hand.

Fun little fact: I drew portraits of each of the homeowners. Sadly, they didn’t make it to the final episode cut, but here’s David and Wemi in all their pencil lead sketchbook glory!

The vibe for the kitchen was clean, bright and transitional. But more than colour and final finishes, all this couple really wanted was better function and flow. That meant taking advantage of the space and turning the kitchen on its side to span the entire width of their townhouse. To save money, rather than taking down the support beam, we absorbed it into the design and it became quite a nice feature—and a home for the walnut shelves! They’re actually four individual shelves, but I love that they look like two large pieces of wood that we fed through the wall and pulled out the other side.

We laid new engineered hardwood through their entire main floor, painted everything in neutral putty greys and added colour pops with art, flowers and accessories. In the end, it came together to create a contemporary look that David and Wemi (and me, clearly) just LOVED. For a townhouse, we sure did maximize the square footage and up the value in a major way.

Get The Look:

  1. Schoolhouse Pendants
  2. Turquoise and powder blue bowls
  3. Le Creuset French Oven
  4. Roman Shades in Intersections
  5. Bread Box
  6. Grey Barstools
  7. Assorted Cutting Boards + Charcuterie Boards
  8. Arabesque Backsplash
  9. Blue Wool Runner
  10. Large-scale Abstract Art

Check out all the before and after photos, watch the full episode, peep Seb’s blog for his take, and check out the 360 degree tour!

PS: My necklace from the intro is from Anne-Marie Chagnon and the jumpsuit is from TopShop. In the reveal, my butterfly skirt is from Ted Baker. 

 

Save My Reno: Joel and Kera’s Multifunctional Family Basement

Save My Reno: Joel and Kera's Multifunctional Family Basement

I resonated a ton with this renovation—and with the homeowners, Joel and Kera.

Their home actually used to belong to Kera’s grandmother, so she had fond memories of playing in the basement as a kid. Similarly, I bought a home that used to belong to dear friends of my grandparent’s whom my parents were close with as well. And while renovating it was bitter-sweet, I believe that a home can evolve but memories live on forever!

As a kid, Kera loved this home, but as an adult, she had to agree with Joel that it totally didn’t work for their family of four. With two young (adorable, curly-haired) boys, and only one bathroom upstairs, they needed to take advantage of every square inch of their basement. Not to mention, the orange carpet and wood paneling wasn’t doing anyone any favors—and neither was the lack of insulation or a functioning laundry room. It was certified funky!

The plan? Well, other than totally gutting everything—grandma’s cinderblock planter, the orange shag carpet, ugly ceiling tiles, and the ramen-noodle-esque globe light to boot—the space needed to house a three-piece bathroom, living area with fireplace, dry bar, and laundry facilities. Lots of function in just shy of about 800 square feet. But I totally believe in the power of small spaces and maximizing square footage (after all, I live in a small bungalow myself), so off we went! Tall, mighty, smiley and strong, Joel and Sebastian did a doozy on this basement in no time flat. With help from Kera and I, of course 😉

Funny fact: the planter housed a few fake plants, but real, actual dirt! Authentic, sure, but totally ironic and hilarious…

For Kera, demo was a cathartic experience and one which brought out mixed emotions. Saying goodbye to the space she once grew to love as a child was tough, but I quickly distracted her with design choices—and lots of them. She admittedly had no design sense—these homeowners didn’t even have a single stitch of artwork up in their entire home—so I was happy to show her a few tips, and she was kind and gracious throughout.

The vision for the design was: family-friendly, laid-back, and livable with pops of fun. Colour-wise, we opted for durable neutrals when it came to larger investment items like the sofa, and aimed to add colour with art, decor, and paint. Everything had to be easy. Even the bathroom fixtures were chosen based on how many levers and knobs had to be pulled. We opted for a system that allowed you to present the water temperature you like and then one knob turned everything on so you didn’t have to fuss!

     

In all, we wanted the space to feel playful and casual. When we first met Joel and Kera, they mentioned that the only thing they liked in the space was their children’s artwork, so ding ding ding! It was so obvious that we had to implement them into the final design and celebrate them by putting them on display in a gallery wall! Kera and I sourced thrift shops for antique frames, picked up some matting and materials, and put the project together in just a few hours. In the show, she’s shaking when painting and that was totally real! She was so nervous, but she did amazing!

What I love most about the space is that it’s not precious. Everything has some whimsy to it, but it’s all grounded and balanced with modern elements. Rather than sticking to one colour or style motif, we introduced plenty of patterns, styles and colours sparingly so Joel and Kera can change things out without worrying about rules or matching. Even in the bathroom we unleashed some fun with the wall tiles, but contrasted it with a slick, white, low-profile vanity with a single-lever tap, making clean-up of the kid’s painty fingers super easy.

Everything from the sofa to the floor is unfussy. Spill on the carpet? Well, because we used FLOR tile squares, you can pop out each one foot tile individually and take it to the sink to rinse. Get dirt on the sectional? The tweedy grey fabric will hide it well! And everywhere you look, we threw in soft cushy seating options to hold plenty of family, from ottomans and poufs to side chairs and pillows.

Another feature we introduced was a gas fireplace which we flanked with floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. And no one would know it, but behind the right door, we hid some unsightly duct work. A pretty solution for hiding something not so pretty! And the cabinets? Pre-fab and super affordable!

Be sure to check out all the before and after photos and watch the full episode. And for extra behind-the-scenes content, head to our HGTV show page here and get Sebastian’s scoop here!

 

Get the look:

  1. Chaise Sectional
  2. Oversize pom-pom pillow and Aztec pillow
  3. Overdyed Accent Chair
  4. Wood Carved Lamp
  5. Cream Ottoman
  6. Metal Wall Decor 
  7. Textured Pouf
  8. Floral Artwork
  9. Blue-cream wool rug

Oh, and one more thing! Peep this 360 degree virtual tour:

Until next week!

x, S

Save My Reno: Sarah and Jon’s Mid-Century Modern Victorian Kitchen

As a young couple living in a gorgeous Victorian semi in the city, Sarah and Jon, along with their baby Henry (the most adorable wee one ever) wanted to strike “kitchen reno” off their to-do list before Jon had to return to work after paternity leave.

The only problem? That meant getting it all done in just three weeks. Solution? Seb, myself, and a good attitude. (Missed the episode? Watch it here.)

Their kitchen certainly wasn’t original. It was technically “updated”, but done so with questionable, run-of-the-mill, 80s finishes. And alllll the shortcuts were taken. The layout left more to be desired, the shallow purple counters were practically useless, and the “flooring” was just thin sheets of peel and stick faux wood. Need I say more?! It was one of the most dysfunctional I had ever seen, but the potential was huge.

Sarah and Jon already had a great sense of style in the rest of their home. They collected milk glass, turned antique finds like meat grinders into accessories, and had a great selection of authentic Danish mid-century modern furniture. So their kitchen was a real sore subject for them.

Initially, Jon planned to renovate it himself, but after taking on the entire basement (which he did a bang up job with) funds got tight and time ran short. Ain’t that always the case with home renos!? Luckily, Seb and I swooped in, and with their help, we got to work, but not after some high tea. Pinkies up, pals!

As a designer herself, I resonated with Sara a ton on this project. She knew what she wanted, she had a clear vision and she communicated it well, which made my job more of a fun collaboration. I think I even referenced us as “two peas in a design pod.” And while I didn’t work as closely with Jon, when I did get a chance to run into him, he never without a big smile. It’s clear where Henry, their adorable little babe, got his grin from.

Design-wise, their Victorian came with as much charm (hooray for exposed brick walls) as it did pains in the butt: plaster walls, and plenty of them. At first, our plans meant keeping all walls up and in tact, but after we started, Sarah and Jon quickly decided there was no time like the present to take a sledge through the walls now and I’m so glad they did. Living through a renovation and with a little one isn’t fun. So while it’s dusty already, you may as well do all the things you plan to!

 

In the end, it all came together to create an eclectic and transitional space that blended their love for mid-century modern with the Victorian style of their home. Bold elements like the handmade cement tiles (LOVE) and Sara’s beautiful graphic drapes were balanced with the larger and neutral permanent features such as the flat-panel cabinet fronts and light quartz counters, and everything was warmed up with wood accents. 

The walnut shelf we integrated into the upper cabinets was one of my favorite aspects of the build, and finding the walnut barstools on clearance was serendipitous! Another favorite of mine was the extra-long cabinet pulls on the lowers. And who doesn’t love decorating with bagels?!

 

What’d you guys think?! Be sure to check out the before and after photos and 360° room tour for more! And my partner Seb’s post for more.

Shop The Look:

  1. Barstools
  2. Porcelain Plates
  3. Brass Cage Pendant
  4. Foliage Artwork
  5. Brass Faucet
  6. Blue Graphic Drapes
  7. Cement Tiles
  8. Striped Tea Towels
  9. Milk Glass Decor
  10. Walnut Cutting Board
  11. White apron sink