Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This Is What Started The Whole Thing

The kitchen, that is.   

Find this gorgeousness here

I found Lindsay's blog last summer. 
Her banquette was love at first sight. 
I've been a regular reader ever since. 

The best part is that she (and her husband) put it together themselves and her post inspired me to do the same. 

Since painting is done in my own kitchen (except trim), I'm back to thinking about the banquette. 

Similar, kinda

We both have a window.  We both have a floor register.  And believe it or not, we both have exactly the same length to work with - 8 feet. 

Side view

The banquette would stretch from the right side of the door to the bulkhead on the wall.  Our table isn't pedestal...but with one leaf (our ideal elbow-room-at-dinner size) it's only 5 feet long.  So there would be enough space on either side of the table to get in and out.  I'm thinking...perfect. 

Making the banquette - I think I can do that.  Picking fabric for the cushion and window - totally freaked out.  But reading Lindsay's blog and others like it gave me the skills and confidence to figure it out.  Approval from the moonlighter sealed the deal.

Cushion fabric - Spectrum Graphite
Window fabric - Chain Link

Yikes.  Ok, the only reason I'm putting these up here is because I committed to them.  So I can share.  Honestly, I'm still a little bit freaking out.  But I still love them, so I think it's a good freak.

Computers don't do color justice.  So here are the swatches all together.


I wanted the cushion color to be as close to the cabinet color as possible.  With a bank of cabinets directly across and on the other side of the door from the cushion, it would have a unified look around the perimeter of the kitchen. 

I also wanted it to be solid so I could play with the window fabric and pillows that will go on the banquette. 

That's the plan, anyway. 

As for further decoration, as in SOMETHING ON THE WALLS, we're narrowing down options.  One front runner is a memento from our honeymoon in Europe.  Think Spain.  Think bullfighting.  But no peeking yet....I got a banquette to deal with first.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Apple is a part of our life in so many ways. 

My phone.  Our computer(s).  The investment portfolio ;)

We haven't caved to video games...yet.  Keeping us at bay is the iPad.  And on days when Jake & Henry are at each other's throats, I couldn't be more thankful for it.

And free educational apps.

In other breaking news, the plumber comes on Friday to tear open the bathroom.  And I'm feeling like painting again....

Sunday, February 26, 2012


The water and sewer lines below Albany Avenue were constructed in 1885. 

And are being replaced in 2012.

Bubba & Jake

This is my favorite picture from last weekend, when my parents were in town.  Note the American flag in the window ;)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Old House. Big Secrets.

Or maybe I should say...Old House.  Questionable Renovation Before We Bought It.

Back up.

Our house was built in 1906.  It's part of the original build of the Annex neighborhood; a true structure that was part of the first "suburb" of the original city of Toronto.

This street saw horses.  This house had no phone.  And had dozens of owners before us. 

I love it for all that. 

The owner right before us lived here for 35 years and raised 6 children with her husband under this roof.  Three before the divorce and 3 after. 

It's the Annex.

Fast forward to 2000, when one of the sons bought the house from the estate after she died.  She, by the way, had the same first name as me - Margaret - and put a US flag sticker in the front window.  It was meant to be.

Her son initially turned it into an income property by renting rooms to friends.  After a year, he decided to fix it up as a single-family home and sell it.

His "fixing up" skills have enlightened me over the last 9 years.

Including this week.

I mentioned in a previous post, while painting the kitchen, I found a leak in an upper cabinet below our 2nd floor bathroom.  I finally had a plumber in to investigate the leak.

Before the plumber
After the plumber

Ouch!  That hurt.  But questions were answered.  And we found a secret.

We are the proud owners of a drop ceiling.  The length of my head. 

Who knew!?

But I digress.  Back to the leak.  Weeks ago, while painting the upper cabinets, I heard a "sploosh" and felt a splash.  A drip from the bathroom onto the hood vent, ricocheting onto my face.  Great.


The cut revealed a lovely "unorthodox connection" between a new plastic pipe and very old steel pipe joining the toilet to the main drain.


The goop was added my my plumber.  Only because fixing the connection properly would entail removing the wall and cabinet and....  As much as I would like a new kitchen, now is not the time.

But get this.  Because we've been avoiding the toilet and tub this week due to the drip, an overwhelming perfume has been emanating from the tub. 

Oh. My. God.

We crossed possible reasons off the list...clog (snaked it), no vent (found it), no trap...found that too:

Bathtub trap

So why the smell?  I'm glad I found the right plumber.

Guess what's wrong with this picture?

You'll notice the bathtub connection is BELOW the toilet connection to the main drain.  Get it?  Oh yeah. The vent off the main drain be damned.  That tub will stink until kingdom come.

Unless we install a cheater vent.  One that sits between the main drain connection and the tub itself.  Bingo.

Our plumber returns this week to rip open our bathroom wall and fix our stinky problem.  Along with the continuing leak.  Please tell me this is it.  Or I don't know what I'll do.

As for the drop ceiling...

I was floored.  But I wasn't.  At every turn, I find something new in this house.  A corner cut, prettying our house to sell, but never a long-term solution.

So...why the drop ceiling?

Bathtub plumbing

Because they decided to run new plumbing to the bathtub through the kitchen. 

That's all.



So...I live with my "new" kitchen like this, until I get to practice my drywall patching skills.

But not before I take in the view between my ceilings a few hundred times.  Paparazzi style.

Oh how I love this old house.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Something Old. Something New.

I'm talking chairs.  And a table.  And falling in love...again.

I'll start at the beginning.

During our enormous basement renovation last year, our dining room became the dumping room.  Meaning, anything that didn't originally get storage status on the 3rd floor got thrown in a heap on the first floor.  Since we lived through it (in the kitchen and livingroom mostly), ground zero was the dining room. 

It was bad.

<a picture should go here - but it was so bad, no pictures exist>

When the reno came to an end in October, we were very careful what went back down in the basement.  No junk.  Or chaos.  Or what-do-we-do-with-this?

Hence, the dumping room continued to suffer.  It's the room we'd avoid.  It's not the kitchen.  It's not the livingroom.  It's a boxy passageway.  With stuff still piled up everywhere.  We don't spend time in there because we don't like it.  We eat in the kitchen and watch TV in the livingroom.  What do we do with this room in between? 

It got to the point where Steve and I seriously talked about tearing down walls, eliminating the room and selling everything in it.  

Enter my husband's co-worker/friend who moonlights as an interior decorator.

He encouraged us to reclaim the dining room.  Embrace it.  And embrace what we have.  Get the table back in place - it belongs in the center of the room, not off to the side.  And get the chairs out of the kitchen.  They belong with the table.


He gave us other homework.  Paint the room white, get a new sideboard (ours is too big for the room & functions as a change table) and find a new light fixture....something sparkly.  Yes, sir.

View from the livingroom

Yup.  Those are a few reno-related items in the back corner there, waiting for garbage day.  But for the most part, we've re-established the dining room.  With an action plan in place.  And it feels really good.  There's something about embracing the layout of an old house instead of daydreaming change.  It feels right.

And waaaaay cheaper.

View from the kitchen

Now, instead of walking through it and cringing, I smile a little bit.  I can't wait to finish purging and begin painting. 

So you're probably wondering...if the chairs found a new home, what's in the kitchen?

That's the something new...


Crazy, right?  We took advantage of our weekend babysitters and went out to "look" at new chairs.

From dining room

I'd have walked right by these chairs if it hadn't been for our moonlighter. 

I love them.


They look amazing with the new grey & white palette.  Their smaller size (compared to the dining room chairs) makes the kitchen look bigger.  And believe it or not, they are so comfortable!

White seat/chrome bottom

An unexpected purchase, but definitely a good one.  The right one.

*Thank you Mr. K!!!!!*

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Year of George

One year ago today, I had George. 

Instead of writing about how much we love him or how he's changed us or how we can't remember life before him...I'm just looking back at our year of George.

1 month

2 months

4 months

6 months

7 months

9 months

Wait.  Isn't that Jake?


Nope - it's our little Porge!

Me with a G

So, yes.

We love you so much.
You've changed us forever.
We simply can't imagine life without you.

Happy 1st Birthday baby George!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Party Weekend

It's a big weekend here. 

We're throwing a party for two special boys who are 6 and (almost) 1.

Remember when?

Mimi and Bubba (my parents) are somewhere in Michigan, on their way here to join in the celebration.  Jake and George couldn't be more excited!

Cake, balloons and family.  Doesn't get much better than that. 

Unless you throw some free babysitting in!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

V Day

As the boys get older, Valentine's Day means more and more around here. 

Like writing out valentines BY THEMSELVES. 

For those of you who aren't in Jake or Henry's class, here's a valentine from each of them.

Age 4

Age 6

Yup.  All caps.  That's how they roll.

I've got a secret Valentine's dinner out planned for my hubby! 
That's how we roll.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fun and Functional

I love when good things happen on a Monday.

Fun?  Drawer handles arrived.

Shiny Happy Handle

I can't wait to install them.  They are going to look lovely with the knobs.  Basic but beautiful.  Pulling out the drawer will never feel so glamorous.

Mostly because....

Functional?  I replaced the slide on the top drawer. 

This all goes back to the subpar (warped, bowed, knotted, cheap plywood, no straight edge or true corner) kitchen cabinets that came with our house 8 years ago.  The drawers have the absolute worst sliders ever.  They're loud.  They're broken.  And so they jam up.  All.  The.  Time.

I simply needed to replace them, but decided to do it after the painting because sliders aren't free at Home Depot.  And that's my budget. 

I went back after painting, but still not free.  So I tried to fix a slide.  I couldn't make it worse, right? 


Won't Close

Instead of being loud and jamming up, the slide I "fixed" wouldn't slide anymore.  At all.  I could open the drawer about 6 inches and that was it.  If I tried to close it all the way, it wouldn't open.  You can see above...the top drawer was in a state of not-quite-closed all the time. 

Just what you want to see when admiring your "new" kitchen.

So I spent $20 this weekend and took another stab at it this morning.

Old Slide
New Slide

This before and after says two things.  The new slide is the same but different. 

I wanted to get exactly the same slide so I could remove and install on the same horizontal line and screw holes.  But the old has wheels and the new has ball bearings. 

Luckily, I managed to maintain the line and drill only a few new holes.  Those holes made me nervous....but I kept on.  Naptime is only so long.


Shiny and New

Since I had already gotten this far with my previous attempt to "fix" and then failed, I was feeling a little sick to my stomach at this point.  Please don't tell me I made new screw holes for nothing.


It worked!

And it's a dream.  I've opened and closed the drawer for no reason a few times today.  Maybe a hundred.

Better Than Ever

Dare I say the top drawer is the only level one now...?  Is it the new slide?  Or wonky drawer fronts...  All the more reason to replace the other three slides BEFORE I install the handles. 

Is anything right in this kitchen?  Ha!