The New House-Master Bedroom

Sunday, May 1, 2016


We've made it to my favourite room in the house...the Master Bedroom...because anyone who knows me knows I take my sleep very seriously. I'm that person that gets excited to get into bed. Clean sheets, a little spray of lavender and I am over the moon. Chad could sleep in a pile of dirty rags so he finds it hilarious how much I enjoy the getting ready for bed process. He calls my "process" P.B.M or Pre-bed-maintenance because I've been known to draw it out a little bit. Anyhow...starting out, this bedroom wasn't the worst room in the house. It fits a king sized bed nicely, has a large closet (but no walk-in) and a Master bathroom. The paint and carpet-not my jam-so goodbye beige. I also have horrible allergies so wall-to-wall carpet is just out of the question even though this was the newest and least disgusting of the upstairs carpet. Most if this is the result of what a little bit of paint and new decor can do.
Here are a few of the "DURING" photos. The first step was removing the popcorn ceiling. We didn't have to put any plastic down because we knew we'd be taking out the carpet so it became a drop-cloth. We also took off the fake wood plastic closet doors at they didn't sit properly on their tracks and were also just super ugly. I had grand ideas of leaving it an open closet but realized very quickly you need a very minimal black and white wardrobe to pull that off.

Once the popcorn was off, we painted the ceiling and removed the carpets. You can get a better sense of the wall colour in this photo. Actually less of a beige and more of a poop-y colour. Not exactly a colour that screams retreat to me!

In the picture above you can see the new flooring is in and the cutting in was started for painting. I went back to my old standby of grey once again. My inspiration for the bedroom was found from this room via Chris Loves Julia. The wall colour is Benjamin Moore’s Chelsea Gray and I love it. It reads a whole bunch of different colours in different lights-from green to grey. I think it makes the room cozy and plays nicely with the white floors for a bit of a Scandinavian vibe.

Looking into the room from the hallway. The curtains are these from Ikea- I used 4 panels to give enough coverage and fullness. Most of the furniture and accessories are the same ones used in our old bedroom or from elsewhere in the house. The tables we were previously using as bedside tables are now down in the living room, so I repurposed some other side and hall tables we had.

I had several pieces of art that had pink in them and wanted to tie pink and mint into the grey and white colour scheme. The little pink chair was a consignment store find and the pink pillows are also from Ikea. 

I'd love to get some cozy rugs for either side of the bed or a large one for the room but I'll have to wait and save up for that. I'm also loving that it's one less thing to vacuum. 

We also added some wall lamps from Ikea to free up space on our bedside tables. I bet you can guess that we made a few trips there to buy stuff for this bedroom. I wanted to try something different with hanging the art above the bed so I hung then lined up from the bottom. 

Here's Billy enjoying a freshly made bed. You can also see our final Ikea purchase(s)-curtain panels to use as closet doors. We did this in the office/bedroom in the last house and I love the way it works. It's cheaper then buying new closet doors and has the flexibility to allow you to let you slide all the panels to the side. Great if you find yourself really digging in your closet like me.

There is a small area before the master bathroom that I'm assuming is supposed to be a vanity/dressing area but to me it is just wasted space. I don't know about you but I'm not about to sit down to powder my nose. Eventually we'll expand the bathroom to include this area into one bigger bathroom.

How would you like to see the world's ugliest bathroom? All I could do in here was paint and add a matching shower curtain. I mean, there isn't much to do with a flesh coloured bathroom!

Surprise! It gets uglier. Is that not the worst tile you've ever seen? It's brown and it looks like it's melting ON PURPOSE. Someone actually chose this bathroom and thought it didn't look too bad. The only good thing about this room is that the brown tile does hide dirt and hair.

Since I can't leave you with an image that burns your eyes out here is one last one of my little sanctuary. 

The New House-Kitchen/Dining Room

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Okay so not exactly a week after but hey, I'm trying! Onto the second room reveal of our new house. Again, it's not a shocking before and after or anything as we haven't (yet) done any major renovations in the kitchen/dining room. I think it still looks much better after we removed the popcorn ceilings, added a light fixture over the dining table and of course, painted everything white. The other thing that I think made a huge difference in modernizing the space was throwing out those hideous bar stools. Don't worry I didn't really throw them out. I sold them on Kijiji, so they are hopefully happy in their new home and perhaps reminiscing about the good old days when it was acceptable to sponge paint every surface in your house. The new bar stools were a major score from a consignment store here in Ottawa. Here's a before and after of the kitchen/dining area from the real estate listing versus today:
It's looking a little less late 80s, early 90s, right? We still have big plans for the kitchen which you can see HERE. Phase one will be: paint the cabinets, new cabinet hardware, new back countertop and a new floor. Phase two will be to completely gut and redo the kitchen... someday. I'm not sure how the people before ever used the dining area as there was not a single source of light other then from the kitchen pot-lights. Maybe they liked eating in the dark? 

In terms of layout and functionality I'm really enjoying the space. There is a huge amount of storage and it has all sorts of built-in drawer accessories like pull-out shelves and in-drawer organizers. I still have a few empty cabinets which is quite a luxury. The only thing I'm not crazy about is having a vent hood floating over the island. I've hit my head on it a few times and when we have people over it blocks anyone standing on the kitchen side of it. When we re-do the kitchen someday, it's something I may think of relocating. I do love having an island and I love our built-in fridge. I also love having built-in garbage drawers so you don't have to have garbage/recycling sitting out. Something to definitely keep in mind if you're redoing/planning your kitchen. 

Our mini-oven isn't turning out to be a problem because it's not like I'm cooking a turkey every day and the oven has all sorts of custom oven trays to fit it perfectly. Chad re-jigged the microwave opening and made ours look built-in as well.

In the corner near the bay window there was a weird little granite remnant telephone table floating on the wall that we got rid of. Chad is in the process of building us a table but our old little round table is a nice placeholder for now. 

On the wall in the dining room side there use to be a full tv cabinet. I wanted to remove the entire thing but it turns out they didn't finish the flooring underneath it. It's a bit wide to be a real buffet but again it's a good placeholder until we re-do the entire kitchen including the floors. Here's a view of the kitchen while we were still in "Dexter mode" removing the popcorn ceiling. You can see the how imposing the old built-in cabinet was and also get a glimpse of the weird floating shelf in the corner.

Again, I've reused mostly everything from our last house. The mint cabinet and bar cart along with the large artwork I made for the black feature wall have all been reworked into this space. The black drum shade is from Ikea and has a copper interior which gives a nice glow and ties into the other copper pieces in the house.

My good old Ikea striped rug is still hanging on despite numerous attempts by the cats to try and destroy it. A good wool rug can withstanding anything. I also use a lot of Bissell spot lifter carpet cleaner. No one has asked me to say this-obviously-but THIS product is the best and seriously gets everything out. 

A few people have mentioned that our kitchen doesn't look THAT bad. It isn't, really, until you get up close. The back countertops and back splash look like they were sponge painted. The crappy laminate countertop also took a beating when they installed a new dishwasher. There are also some weird stains that are permanently etched into the countertop. See not dirt just a mystery stain!

I took another close up picture so you can also see the metal edging around all the cabinets. I think this must have been the height of chic in the early 90s. I also cannot wait to change out the back splash tile. I've never wanted a simple white subway tile more. The one plus is that all the sponge paint-y-ness really hides crumbs and dirt. 

I can't leave you with a picture looking at this, so one more view towards the dining room. I'll show you the master bedroom and the world's ugliest master bathroom next. 

The New House-Living Room

Monday, March 7, 2016


Hi everyone, remember me? I didn't die in a reno related accident, I've just been procrastinating...and I'm not sure why? Let's talk it out! The house has been kinda done for a few months but in my head it's never really done. Maybe because with this house I know we'll be here for a long while so I'm in no rush to finish all the projects at once? Maybe because with this house it isn't such a dramatic before and after? I mean the house needed to be updated but paint and popcorn ceiling removal don't make for truly jaw dropping before and after photos. 

When I look back at the starting photos, the house now feels so much lighter, brighter and modern. It's also starting to actually feel like home and not someone else's house we just bought. I've tried to be a bit more restrained in my choices (well as restrained as I can be) and have gone with a more muted palette. Whew, okay, still there? You probably just want to see the pictures-right? Let's start with the living room and then fingers crossed I'll do a weekly before and after of the other spaces. 
As you can see in the real estate listing photos the former owner had been using this room as a formal dining room. I've said it before but for us it seemed excessive to have an eat-in kitchen and dining room. I may also have a chair hoarding problem so having two sitting rooms was the perfect solution. 

If we rewind a bit, I'll show you what the room looked like on the night we got possession. These photos more accurately show just how beige the whole house was. It also shows just how beautiful that old light fixture was, I'm kicking myself for not keeping the spaghetti monster light! If you look really closely you can see the grey outlets too. Chad had to change out every single one of them. He had a lot of fun doing that. Not only did we change every single outlet but also every single light switch and light fixture in the entire house.

Below you'll see what the living room looked like after we had painted everything white and Chad had created and installed a new light fixture. You also get a little peek into the kitchen/dining room.

Ahhh, so fresh and bright. As I was thinking up a source list I realized that the only thing I can give you a source for is the paint on the feature wall, Sherwin-Willams Eclypse-which in itself is a story-one in which the very patient Chad put up with my deliberations for days. Before we get to that, just so you know, all of the items in the living room are either vintage/second hand things we already had, borrowed from my sisters stash (thanks Caitlin for storing your stuff with me!) or a few new accessories from HomeSense

The Persian rug may just be my new BEST EVER Kijiji/Craigslist find! Guys, it was $40 and it's huge! The man selling it seemed to be clearing out a hoarders house and felt bad he was even charging $40. He kept asking if I wanted to buy the new ugly polyester rugs he had. I've never seen a wool rug this large and detailed for under $300. Okay, enough about my score and back to my paint trauma. 

If you look back on my post HERE you'll see several mood boards that do not include this green colour. My original thought was to maybe use this colour on the kitchen cabinets . I had planned to leave this room entirely white and then down the road incorporate wall paper or panelling or something. What I hadn't realized was just how cream coloured my grandparent's vintage sofa was. The moment the movers brought it in I had a panic attack, texting Chad pictures of just how much it clashed. I knew I couldn't paint the entire room because a majority of the walls flow into the other rooms. I also knew that for the time being I had to use this sofa. After much deliberation (I can be a drama queen) I realized this would be a good time to test out various army/mossy greens. A feature wall is always an easy way to change things up as the mood strikes me and I've always been drawn to the colour green. Although, after painting the entire house I don't think that mood will strike me for a long time. I love that with all the neutral pieces in the room I could just change the wall colour and a few accents and have a whole new colour scheme. 

Our living room now holds the bedroom set and family room set from my grandparents. Their side tables and dresser are now our sofa tables and credenza. I wasn't sure if it would be too much teak but then I remembered there is no such thing as too much teak. The lamps were given to us by friends of my parents and updated with simple shades from-you guessed it-HomeSense. 

Along with painting out all the wood banisters, I also made Chad take down the doors to the "solarium/balcony/room to nowhere." It opened up the room and most importantly allowed a chair to be placed there without a door opening onto it.

The metal starburst (that belonged to my other set of grandparents) use to hang over the credenza in our old house is now over the sofa and looking right at home. I love how I had a chance to mix metals in this space and plan on carrying that into the kitchen as well. I also like how the teak and the copper read as a similar colour palette. 

Please ignore the half taken apart doorbell in this picture. If anyone knows of an attractive wired doorbell chime please send the link my way. I thought I could just take it down and replace it quickly but all the options are just as ugly! They are still selling the same one I took down that I thought was definitely from the 80s. 

The circus print was given to me by my parents. They brought it back from New Orleans a few years ago but I only recently got around to framing it. I feel like this area has a bit of a circus, natural curiosities theme going on with my Mexican tiger mask and the vintage tin monkey wind-up toy that has been a stocking stuffer gag passed around my family forever. Again, everything is reused from the old house with the exception of the trio of blue vases from HomeSense.

The view from the landing/loft area. I'm glad I went ahead and painted all the banisters out even though we'll eventually be replacing them for some kind of modern metal/wire ones. I'm also really happy with how Chad's light fixture turned out. I had originally wanted it to be black but copper is now my new best friend! 

What do you think? Was it worth the wait for those of you who've been asking me what the hell happened? Just in case-I'm adding a picture of Bill Murray looking cute and getting in my way while taking pictures.

The New House-Reno Part 1

Saturday, January 23, 2016


If you've manged to stick around after my months and month of plans about the new house (I was annoying even to myself), I salute you! You'll be happy to know we got possession of the house on November 30th, which is already last year (gulp!) and started immediately to tear it apart. I suppose tear it apart is too strong a word. It wasn't like our last house where we demolished any walls but we did rip up a lot of carpet, remove a hell of a lot of popcorn ceilings and paint every last surface.

For those of you who have scraped a popcorn ceiling you're saying to yourself right now "um mm, yeah dummy it's a huge and messy job that leaves piles of heavy, wet plaster everywhere". If you were me before this started you where saying to yourself "this needs to be done at whatever cost to Chad and his father" because I am a rational person who realizes that popcorn ceilings are a crime against humanity.

Making our kitchen look like a scene from Dexter

Chad and I took a week off work and both our dads came over to help (Chad's amazing dad even flew in all the way from Alberta to help!). We were two teams ready to tackle the 80s back into its rightful place. Camp Zentner (Chad and his dad) were in charge of wetting and scraping every single ceiling in the house, removing all the carpet upstairs, removing all the floor staples and installing the new plywood floors. Camp Brown (my dad and I) were in charge of supervision and stupid questions.

I'm kidding (not really, we Browns do ask a lot of questions and are not super handy). We were in charge of taping all the goddamn plastic up over every goddamn surface in the entire house. 3000 square feet of plastic later, we ensured none of the wet plaster ruined any surfaces. 

While the ceiling popcorn came off fairly easily it really did get everywhere. After it dried it left dust EVERYWHERE. The ceilings are also not perfect. After sanding and patching they are pretty good but I think to make them perfect you'd have to skim coat them or something.  Halfway through the popcorn removal was when I swore it would never end and that the whole house would have wonky ceilings and be plaster and dust covered forever. 

Side note: there is always that moment in the renovation when you swear you made a huge mistake and have taken a perfectly good house and ruined it...usually you do some yelling and then push through with the help of alcohol and it works out!

Team Brown were also the sanders and then the painters. Okay so maybe my dad ended up painting most of our house (thanks dad, you're the best!) but painting every single ceiling was no joke. I swore my neck would be stuck looking up forever. 

You can see below the ceiling in the Master bedroom freshly scraped and painted, just waiting for the carpet to be removed. This was the only neutral carpet upstairs but it was certainly showing some wear and had a few strange stains. I also hate carpet, not as much as popcorn ceilings but they still had to go. We left the carpets in while scraping the ceiling allowing them to act like a huge towel-one less room to give the "Dexter" treatment to.

And then the carpets were gone...but not that ugly wall colour! 

A view in the second bedroom (below) gives you a sense of the beauty of those carpets. Not sure what the thinking was here-yes, let's do red in the bedrooms for a fun pop of colour and to hide all the blood stains... but let's show some restraint and do a nice neutral grey in the hall and then just to change it up-a beige in the master! Design dreams, people. 

Below is the upstairs hallway with the last of the carpets gone but before the beige walls said goodbye.

Here is Chad deep in thought about the plywood floors. We knew we wouldn't have the money to replace the carpet with the same hardwood that runs throughout the house. At approximately $4-$5 a square foot for materials alone, it was going to add up fast. I'd kept Jenny Komenda's "DIY Wide Plank Floors (from Plywood)" tutorial in the back of my mind for a while just waiting to find a time to use it. Chad liked the fact that it ended up being about 80 cents a square foot. 

Here's Chad to tell you a bit about how the process went:

Ok - so this is easy, but tedious and time consuming. Good thing it's cheap! What you do is buy a bunch of cheap-o 3/8" plywood. Then rent a hardwood floor sander and use 20 and 40 grit paper and go to town on each board. We did this in the garage. Once each board is sanded, you will need to rip each board into 8" strips on a table saw. Each strip will then have to have the edges knocked down a little bit with a hand sander. Then it's just a matter of cutting and installing with a nail gun. (Sarah insists that I mention that we made the gaps between planks uniform by using my square as a spacer before nailing). Once the floor is installed, we did a DIY whitewash which is just a 2:1 mixture of water to white paint. Once the whitewash was dry, we protected it with 3 coats of polyurethane. Like I said, tedious but cheap.

Above the master floor completed but not whitewashed. Below, floors done and the beginnings of removing the colour Chad liked to refer to as baby shit. 

The hallway complete before we painted the stairs white.

The other huge project for Chad was removing the ceiling fan from our very high vaulted ceiling, scraping away the dreaded popcorn and creating a very large DIY light fixture. I'll save the details of how he made it for a special Chad post a.k.a. a post full of swearing.

Renting scaffolding was actually not as expensive or scary as I thought. The delivery was the most expensive part and a nice guy came and set it all up. It ended up being around $168 to rent, have delivered and set up for two weeks and then picked up and taken away.

Chad had to install the light fixture in sections, removing a level of scaffolding as he went. 

Yeah! Pretty light fixture for a fraction of the cost I would have shelled out! 

So that's where I'm going to leave you for now. Stay tuned for part two so I can show you the house finished and just waiting for our furniture to arrive. Thanks again to our two awesome dads who probably cursed ever agreeing to help out. At least I know my dad was after he found out there is a real ailment called "dad reno knee syndrome".

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