home is where the couch is

our first house. her big plans. his hard work.

Posted by Terri |


After renovating our back room, we had renovation burn out. We still have a few things to finish in the back - some wood trim around the fireplace, painting the French doors, installing a guide for the sliding bathroom doors and finishing the step to the dining room. We think about it...and then we go stick our heads in some trivial pursuit like browsing the internet.

This renovation did do something to my head though. Having a dining room full of stuff for so long made me realize how much unnecessary junk we've been holding on to. After we cleaned up, I started selling things, donating or tossing stuff that just took up space. I painted everything white. I just needed things to be clean and empty.

I got rid of a china cabinet, piano, humungous desk (which The Man is still not happy about, but seriously, we just put papers on it and it was huge), extra beds, dressers. I can't even remember everything I've thrown out the door.

Things that I've been pondering lately is our obsession as a culture of consumerism. Since our reno, I've been reading minimalist blogs like Becoming Minimalist, miss minimalist, The Minimalists, and other blogs on mindfulness and being aware of what we are doing with our money and time. The Man recently handed me a book called The 4 Hour Work Week and even though I barely have started it, it's about how to make money, work smart and enjoy life, rather than the focus on being make money to buy stuff.

We as a society are often taught to grow up, get married, have kids, buy a big house, fill it with stuff, shove it full to the brim with crap you don't need, upgrade, always upgrade, put yourself in debt buying things, it'll make you happy, and then, what? Save up to go on vacation and get away from your burdensome life? I'm tired of living like this. My goals aren't to have tons of stuff, but they're to have stuff that I like, stuff that I use, stuff that makes me happy and doesn't require a ton of my space and time to maintain it.

So I'm revamping my mindset. Sure, I love decorating and renovating. We're probably not going to stop having projects because as a couple, that's what we like to do. We like improving things. But I'm going to try and not fill up those renovated spaces with useless items, unless they bring me absolute joy to look at them.

My goal is to have a home that has things we need and love, not things that we have for the sake of having them. Things take up psychic space in your brain. Don't you feel better when you've cleaned and purged a room? Objects hold onto you. I'm done with that. I want to be in control of my things, not have them in control of me.

This is a work in progress of course. I recently heaved everything up from the basement and once again filled my dining room up with everything. (I don't have a garage. One would be handy to have.) My basement is a dungeon. It has fieldstone walls, a really crappy cement floor and smells musty. We have our washer, dryer and small freezer down there along with the mechanics of the house. It's not very big, it doesn't go all the way under my house, just the foyer and kitchen. So it can get crowded. It also have almost all of the Man's tools down there. Let me tell you, he has a lot. And he needs every single one of them.

Sometimes I get frustrated. I have a table saw and mitre saw in my dining room all the time because they're too big to get into the basement. Sometimes I think, why do we have this house, that is soon going to be too big for 2 people once we become empty nesters. It doesn't have a garage, my kitchen hasn't been fixed up in 40+ years, my basement smells even with two humidifiers running in it, I also have a treadmill in my dining room (poor thing) that belongs in a basement...why do I live in an older home when I really need a subdivision house??

And then I step into my backyard which is filled with trees and a creek running through it and I'm a 10 minute walk from downtown and the majority of my neighbours are great (except for the screamy nutbar across the street).

I'm so torn.

11:14 AM


Posted by Terri |

We've been living with our beautiful back room for a few months now. I think after a year and a half of renovating, we're now in do nothing mode. Recuperating.

One thing that has come out of this reno is a change of mindset for me. With our dining room looking like a hoarders house during our renovation, I've found that the weight of stuff has literally been weighing down my psyche. Things and crowded spaces have been making my mind feel heavy. I've been feeling like I need space to think.

So, I actually haven't just been doing nothing. I've been purging. Our dining room - pre-reno - had our dining room table and chairs, a china cabinet, piano and library card catalogue in it. Oh, and a treadmill. That's a lot of stuff for one room. So crowded and full of places to hide junk.

This was taken in 2007 but hadn't really changed since then. Take away the desk and buffet and add a treadmill and china cabinet.

I went through my china cabinet and was fairly deliberate and mindful about what I was going to keep and what I was going to get rid of.

Table cloths, craft supplies I never used, knick knacks, candles. All of these things went. Honestly, I never used these things and they were just something I had to clean or organize. Out they all went. Along with the china cabinet.

I moved some shelves I had in the living room and put them in the kitchen. The things I kept from the china cabinet went on the shelves.

The piano that loomed large and dark, although it was fairly cool looking - gone. The piano bench - gone. The yellow paint that had been on the walls for the last 11 years. Gone and repainted white. Currently, I just feel I need to paint everything white so that I can breathe. I love colour and am sure I will change it up when I find I get to the place where I can focus and am ready to add colour substance to the house. But for now, white is calling.

I've been reading and researching minimalism for the last few months. I've been reading blogs and books, reading real life accounts of peoples journeys of getting rid of things, of peoples attachment to stuff and how it affects you. It's been pretty eye opening and interesting on how our society pushes you to buy and that you need, when there is a whole different way of living. Like, have only the things you love and use.

Now I'm not saying I'm planning on getting rid of everything in my house and only want to own 100 things. That kind of minimalism is a little extreme for me. But I do want to begin to go through my house with a harsh eye and get rid of the junk that weighs me down.

After going through my china cabinet and tossing or donating over half the stuff in there, I thought, am I going to miss any of this? I don't. I had a bit of a hard time getting rid of the candles - I don't know why, they're cheap enough to re-buy. But my boy helped me out by pyroing the whole lot of them and making such a mess they needed to be tossed. The freedom I felt was great.

12:31 PM

Search: Fireplace Surround Slanted Ceiling

Posted by Terri |

We're not professionals at all but we get by. We do what I think a lot of DIYers do - google the crap out of what we need to know how to do.

One thing that we couldn't find anything about is how to build a fireplace surround that goes all the way to the ceiling when your ceiling is a slanted ceiling. I am an expert Google searcher and I could find nothing. So here's what we the Man did if you need to build one and haven't a clue how to start.

First, he went out and bought two things.  A Plumb Bob and a yellow do-thingy. You know, that's not really very technical for when you want help. 

A Plumb Bob

 and a yellow do-thingy that looks like this:

This yellow thing gives you the angle of your ceiling

Then he put up this piece

Then the next side

He made little wedges for the tops

So that they were screwed onto the tops of the side pieces

He put up two cross pieces

Added some wall pieces, the proper width for studs and a brace for the future mantel.

And then drywalled it all.

He built a frame for the stoop.

We bought a piece on concrete off of kijiji for 25 bucks.

The cat claimed it before we had a chance to drywall beneath the base...

The End.

4:45 PM

Almost done. For realz.

Posted by Terri |

All of a sudden, everything seems done and all that's left to do is organize all my crap and clean the rest of the house that we've treated like a construction zone.

Remembering that my camera is broken and all I have is my ipod to take photos with, here's what's been going on. Also, this blog is for us to document all the things we do to our house...so be prepared for lots of photos of what may seem like the same thing, but isn't.

Last I left you, the floor had gone in and was beautiful. Now it has a bit more character after being in our house for a while. You know, tools falling and us scraping stuff across the floor. We're not used to being careful with such nice things in the back room.

The Man started to work on our bookshelves. We used 5 Billy bookshelves from Ikea and the rest he built and modified. One of the specifications that we wanted *cough* I wanted *cough* was a secret door that went into the crawl space above the bathroom. An old house = sucky storage. The other was that I wanted it to look built in.

First he built a base to raise it so that we could use our 7" baseboard that we had all around the room.

Bookshelf base

This continued in front of the place where the door to the kitchen went. The one we blocked up.

Bookshelf base continued. Exciting stuff here.

Then he started placing the Billy bookcases on the base. Here you can see the storage space above the bookshelf and the blocked up doorway.

Putting in the Billy bookshelves
Somehow I missed taking photos of the Man building all the bookshelves above the Ikea bookshelves, so - Magic!

The bookshelves in place.

The secret door is open.
The secret door is closed.

Here's what the kitchen door looked like before the magic happened.

And here's after. Kinda.
We hemmed and hawed as to how to cover the edges. Especially since we used plywood and the layered look did not appeal to my perfectionist husband. Renos cost lots and lots of money so we trudged down into the dungeon and scrounged around to find old mdf beadboard pieces from our upstairs bathroom reno. The mdf got turned around to the flat side and that is what was used to trim all the edges. Money saved!

Edges are trimmed and wood filled
The painting begins! Finally.

I don't know why, but Ikea's 'white' furniture is pee yellow. It all had to be painted. With lovely oil based primer.

Note the cute little shelf that was built to match up to the other ones? No idea what we'll put in there. Maybe we'll have to start collecting something.

Just so you know, this is mostly all from my father. He has a movie addiction but is a minimalist and gives everything away. Of course we're not going to say no, it's always fun to get a box of 20 movies every few months!

So that is our bookshelf that I absolutely LOVE. I will leave you with a sneak peek of what it looks like mostly filled up with furniture on this side of the room. I'm currently organizing (that's why it's messy) and just though I'd take a break and a photo to show you.

5:08 PM

Pushing forward

Posted by Terri |

We've been trying to push ourselves to get this back addition done by Christmas. So we've been doing lots of stuff and I'm way too lazy to write about it all, so here's some photos. And they're not even nice photos cause my camera decided it's had enough, so you're stuck with photos from my ipod. :-D

All the tiny pieces of shim the Man cut to level the floor

From 2 inches down to 5/32

We marked every foot on every shim and levelled using the little shims

Then the Man cut strips of wood that were the proper heights and leveled the Entire. Floor.

Building the fireplace surround

Had to figure out how to do that with an angled ceiling

Almost all drywalled

Our piece of stone hearth we found on kijiji for 20 bucks.

Built the fireplace base

Socks enjoying the fireplace hearth

Put up all the window trim, filled in the holes, caulked and painted

This is what one side of the french doors looked like

And this was the other side. With a little writing from a previous owners kid. It's supposed to say Happy Day from Gabby.

Primed one

Painted one

Superior flooring. Black Walnut au Natural

The beautifully leveled floor just before the hardwood went down

And after!! Instant gratification. Done in 7 hours.