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The Joys of Renovating Your Dream Home: Before and After

Posted by Ali | Thursday May 12, 201121 comments

After searching for two years, losing several bidding wars and eventually giving up and swearing off MLS, Alex and I bought our first house. For the record it was him who caved and did the fateful last search that led to us purchasing our three bedroom two bathroom abode.

The listing started with, "Stunning newly renovated…" and the list price wasn't too shabby. So, on a Friday after work we drove over to see it and bought it on the spot. As you will see, it wasn't a stunning reno. The last improvements had been made 10 to 15 years ago, when the previous owner had been inspired to install an orange and black kitchen complete with matching orange terracotta floors and a blue, green and white bathroom with its own matching terracotta floor. Of course.

My first impression was, "Um.. I don't think so" but then Alex reminded me that they had updated the electrical and there was forced air. Air conditioning happened to be on my non-negotiable list. As was no knob and tube—a known issue in older houses that effectively makes your house uninsurable since it can lead to the place burning to the ground. I agreed we could buy the house if (and only if) the bathroom and kitchen were renovated prior to moving in. Living with an ugly kitchen and bathroom or through messy dusty renovations also happened to be on my non-negotiable list.

So, with 30 days between the closing of our condo and moving into our new house, one talented design firm, four contractors, a closet designer and a duct cleaning company, we got the house of our dreams.

Behold the kitchen!

Kirsten Marshall of Palmerston Design Consultants (remember her?) assisted by Allison Granovsky designed the look and feel from top to bottom. Hideous orange was replaced with light airy whites and cool grey tones. We replaced all appliances including an ill fitting fridge, donating them to Habitat for Humanity and got a package deal from CanadianAppliance.ca.

Renaissance Painters, in addition to repainting the entire house, suggested we repaint the cupboards and get new handles in lieu of replacing them. Not only did that save a bundle, it ended up looking like a brand new kitchen!

The beastly terracotta floors that had extended all the way to the front entrance were replaced with slate grey tiles by Cornerstone Renovations (416-455-9528) who handled the majority of the major renovations efficiently, on time and on budget. The stairs and door were repainted in black and white. I absolutely love our black accent door now.

Our living room was repainted in softer tones and the floors re-sanded and varnished by Invision Hardwood & Decor. Re-sanding the floors is a very messy job so I'm glad we weren't living here at the time.  All of the furniture was from our condo. Now all we need is some art!

The Sunroom addition at the back of the house had a very rustic cottagey feel—which is not our style. These floors were also refinished by Invision, which made them look almost new. California Closets installed a new wall unit that will be my new ChickAdvisor HQ while I'm home with the baby. We kept the breakfast nook on the other side, but repainted mellow greys and whites for a more modern feel.

The bathroom transformation is one of my favourites. It went from a cramped space with far too much blue and far too little storage to my own personal spa with a floating vanity that has loads of room for all of my beauty products. The soaker tub is one of most treasured pieces. It takes forever to fill but it's big enough to stretch out in.

As you can tell from the picture, the bathroom is now a fair bit bigger because we took the existing hall closet that was beside the bathroom and extended the whole bathroom, turning the closet into a separate stand up shower. (Alex wants you to know that was his idea.)

Glass block replaced the rickety old window, and subway tile and a rain shower make this by far the nicest shower I've ever had. Although, now that we're paying for our water separately we're trying to keep showers short. Naturally!

I can't talk to you about budget because it still pains me to think how much we spent, but we were very fortunate that all of the teams we worked with were prompt and professional.  

I'm so glad we didn't attempt any of these renovations ourselves. Not only would my colour selections have been terrible (based on the horrified look on Kirsten's face when I showed her a swatch I was thinking of for the bedroom), Alex and I long ago concluded that our skills are best suited at the office.

Are you a DIY'er or would you hire pros for a renovation like this? 
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on March 08, 2012  chicky82  2,625 said:

It looks great! The only I don't like is the floating vanity because I would always be fishing stuff out from under it :) Currently we are looking fora place and my partner is having a hard time seeing the potential in some of the places and only sees the other people's stuff.

on March 08, 2012  sixx  605 said:

It looks beautiful!!! Even the befores did justice for me (minus closet space). The kitchen looks crisp,clean, and modrern as well as the rest of the house. Great job on the design and closet storage arrangement!

on May 13, 2011  MaryGorgeous  1,616 said:

I LOVE before and after photos! Beautiful home, I love the back splash in the kitchen, I have never seen that tile before--it's so chic! I am loving the kitchen nook and that bathroom *sigh* gorgeous! I applaud you for seeing the potential in this home, that will be the hardest thing when we finally start looking around.

on May 12, 2011  jchang212  106 said:

Love, love, LOVEEEE!!!!
The renos are beautiful! And props to Alex on expanding the bathroom into the closet :)

on May 12, 2011  Ali de Bold  STAFF said:

Oh you dolls are so sweet! Thanks for the compliments. We were really lucky to have an amazing designer and great contractors to work with. We'd heard so many disaster stories prior to doing this but everyone we worked with were true professionals. It was well worth it.

on May 12, 2011  MissJudy  3,649 said:


on May 12, 2011  LaurenBlair  128 said:

Wow. Wow. Wow. This is gorgeous. Dream home indeed!
Congratulations on putting this all together! I am so excited for you and Alex and little baby!!

on May 12, 2011  Becky  13,068 said:

I'm at work sitting in on a conference call, phone NOT muted. I actually said "holy shit" out loud on the first before and after pic.

I have no words, all I can say is you live in my dream house, except way better!!! ;-) And echo everyone's sentiment, that you, Alex and baby enjoy wonderful, happy, memory filled years in this dream house.

Btw, I would NEVER diy.... I'd just throw money at it to make it better lol :)

on May 12, 2011  cathy3087  98 said:

Looks fantastic! I'm loving all the light colours, it's very chic. When I first saw the transformation of the kitchen it really looked like your ripped the whole thing out and started fresh. But when you look closely you can see how some of the original parts are still there but MAJORLY updated. Your contractors did a great job.

Oh and that square shower head is the coolest!

on May 12, 2011  jskim07  50 said:

This is my dream house!!!! It's chic and modern! I love your colour scheme!!!
I especially love all the stainless steel going on in your kitchen, it's like being in a Tron movie!

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