It might seem like this story should have come at the beginning. Or maybe we needed time to fully appreciate all the synchronicities that led us to the yellow brick beauty. The house search was not easy. It began even before we left Toronto. After a deal fell through, we decided to rent a place in the neighbourhood we wished to live. We were lucky to find a beautiful, newly renovated home in Wortley Village to settle into during our search. And what a search it turned out to be.
Fifty houses later and five failed offers got us pretty discouraged. And then it happened.
We needed a fresh start. In the backyard fire pit we burned all of the listing sheets, purchase agreement offers, and notes on all of the houses we had seen. We consciously let each failed offer go and opened ourselves up to finding exactly what we were looking for. We wrote a list of all the elements we wanted in our new home.
The next day while out walking we saw a ‘coming soon’ sign on the yellow brick beauty. We immediately contacted our agent’s assistant, Lindsay, (our agent was away) and asked to see it before it came on the market. The listing agent was holding off showings until the open house that weekend and holding off offers until the following day (wait a minute, this sounds a lot like Toronto real estate!) I must have watched the online marketing video of the house probably 50 times and KNEW this was our home. I begged to get in to view it just before the open house. The agent agreed. We arranged for Shane, our amazing friend and contractor to meet us for the walk through to make sure the house was structurally sound and required minimal repairs. With his approval we would be able to put in a clean offer.
We were in the house less than 20 minutes and in my mind we had already moved in. This was home.
In that moment I made a promise to love this house.
We worked with rock star realtor, Veronica Jovicic to put together a solid offer. We also drew a picture of ourselves holding a sign with our names, the words ‘new homeowners’, the yellow brick beauty address and put it with the listing photo. We kept this image in our minds as we waited…
On offer day, four other offers were presented. We bit our nails as we waited outside the yellow brick beauty for the homeowner and the listing agent to review all offers. 45 minutes seemed to take an eternity. Finally the listing agent emerged from the house and my heart sank as he walked towards the vehicle of another potential purchaser. Veronica assured me this was good. I could hear them talking and laughing for an impossibly long time. Then the agent turned towards us and I held my breath as he walked the 100 feet to where we were standing. He was about 20 feet away when he said “Congratulations, you guys got it!”
We almost couldn’t believe our ears! A flood of happiness, relief and gratitude washed over us. After a little jumping up and down (ok, a LOT) and thanking the agents we celebrated our good fortune. Our new home, our new lives could finally begin on solid ground. And I could, once again, enjoy the process of falling in love with a beautiful old home. xo
As the warmer weather brings us outside, the work on Adam’s workshop has resumed! We still have lots of work to do on the inside, but don’t you think the outside is shaping up nicely? Goodbye pink siding, hello sweet board and batten! xo
We are excited to share our first completed room! Our master bedroom is a peaceful sanctuary, our retreat from the construction zone that is the rest of the house. (Seriously, our shower door is a plastic tarp right now. But that’s another story.)
Our priorities for designing this space were to keep it light, restful and quite minimal. It can be hard sleeping in a room with a lot of visual ‘noise’ so there is little pattern, lots of white and lots of texture. The room is a mix of old and new, splurges and auction finds – a truly eclectic mix of treasured items. The LOVE letters are from Heist, the bed was made in Quebec by HUPPE, the Hudson’s Bay blanket was a Christmas gift to Adam, the white stools were salvaged from an old job site, the light fixture is from West Elm, the faux sheep skin is a Homesense find. The cute kitty is Leo, from the Toronto Cat Rescue :)
Before: Although this moody teal is getting it’s share of attention this year, light and bright is the way to go for this urban farm girl. Benjamin Moore’s Simply White OC-117 has been a favourite of mine for years. I have used it in many of my own rooms and recommended it countless times to clients and friends.
Closing in this odd ledge area was the first project we tackled, and by we, I of course mean Adam. Once the electrical was disconnected, the space framed and drywalled, we decided to create a true retreat from all electronics and designated this room as a wifi free zone, no phones, tablets, laptops, etc. We used shungite powder in the primer to protect against harmful EMF radiation. I will write more about the benefits and healing properties of crystals in another post. A shout out to our local Benjamin Moore rep who was very accommodating to make the special mix for me – Leila you rock!
Painting the trim the same colour as the walls provides a unifying backdrop to everything in the space and the lack of contrast actually makes the room appear even larger. Sheen for the walls: eggshell, sheen for the trim: satin. Simple white roller shades from Blinds to Go are just the thing to offer privacy and allow light to filter in. If you aren’t a morning person, be sure to order room darkening shades. Oh…and that skylight! We are looking forward to waking up in the trees – hurry up spring!
If you are paying attention you will see we took down a ceiling fan to install this gorgeous, sculptural light fixture. We figured we would enjoy it now and wait to see how hot the room will be in the summer. If needed, we can always swap it out for a fan – almost 100% not going to happen ;)
Can you guess who gets the double closet? Yup! ME :) The closet was another project-within-a-project. Now, you might be tempted to skip painting and fixing up the inside of your closet but I will tell you now, take the time to do it when you paint the room or you will NEVER get back to it. And it is soooo worth the effort. We found a weird vent situation that Adam remedied with a new duct, drywall and a wood ledge. He also made shoe shelves that span the width of the closet. We rehung the original wire shelving but added wood trim to finish it off. So happy with the results.
You can see the floors are the original pine sub-floors and here, my friends, is where Adam and I have a serious parting of the ways. I want to keep and restore them. Adam wants to install new floors. He is trying to woo me to his side with the promise of white oak laid in a herringbone pattern…yes, he knows which design buttons to push! What do you think?
The white walls became a blank canvas for displaying art, crafts and treasures. The ‘angel wings’ were an auction find, the vintage lamp was my grandmother’s, the carpet is an antique kilim we bought from a collector. I’m in LOVE with this rug! The vintage dresser is another auction find that we brought with us from our old house in Toronto. The jewelery box was a gift from past work colleagues. It is the collecting of things over time, the mixing of new and old that make a space interesting and truly unique.
This little area is a great place to display artwork and where I do my morning yoga and meditation. The artwork is a mix of prints from an OCAD grad show, photographs, fibre art and a sketch from a life drawing class (please stop asking, I drew her, I wasn’t posing.) We love these original Hans Wegner chairs we scored from the Gardner Galleries auction, they will most likely move to my office once that room is finished as they are as comfortable as they are stylish.
Some of the smaller details…
The bedside lights are also from our old home, originally purchased at IKEA. We replaced the bulbs with dimmable LED’s and added a dimmer switch. Yes, a dimmer switch for lamps! Ah-mazing, and works with all types of bulbs. Love this product! And BTW, LED’s are everything compact fluorescents aren’t. They cast a truly warm light (be sure to check the packaging), last forever (ok, like 22 years) and contain no mercury.
This lamp is one of a pair that I inherited from my grandmother. I absolutely adore them! All they needed was a taller harp and a new shade. LOVE! When style meets sentiment, it’s magic.
Tip: when looking for a shade, bring your lamp to the store and try a few on! Harp and shade are from Living Lighting.
Sometimes you must see beyond an item’s original purpose. The woven wall hanging to the right of the bed is actually a table runner!
The stools, now used as side tables, were headed for the trash. Adam rescued them, along with some barn board he found curbside, to create these stunning and functional bedside tables. The little woven bowl I made at the Craft Bee!
When I fall in love with a fabric, I buy a yard or two. Even if I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I picked up this gorgeous print in NYC almost 10 years ago and made it into the perfect pillow for the bed.
The runner on the bench breaks up the wood and is one of my own screen printed designs.
The snuggly little fellow, who stayed for the entire photo shoot…our little Leo.
One space done! Whoohoo! xo
Photo credits: Thanks to the lovely and talented, Elaine Andrews!
Has this ever happened to you? The tub is ready for pick up, the lighting has arrived, the faucets will be in next week, the new toilet is sitting in the dining room – all the design elements are on their way and WHAM! you decide to completely change the plan. I MEAN COMPLETELY!
We originally planned to tear out one of the walls in my office to expand our tiny bathroom, so we decided to remove all of the lath and plaster walls to insulate the office (might as well, right?) Once that was done we couldn’t stop thinking about using the entire office for a spacious, bathroom retreat. What about resale? Losing a bedroom? Turns out this large bathroom will add value to our home (thanks Veronika Jovicic!)
And you know what? I love this design even more than the last! Luckily, all of the purchased (and handmade) elements will fit in the new design (plus an additional vanity).
This house has much to teach me about patience, flexibility and being in the flow. I am listening. xo
As I cleaned and repainted this beauty, I kept thinking of all the hands that lovingly wiped the panes in this window. Over 100 years ago, long before me, my mother, or grandmother were even born, someone was cleaning and admiring the glass much the same way I am today. This is why I love old houses. Restoring this window is one of the ways I am making friends with my new home, and building what I know is the start of a beautiful relationship. I love how it turned out, do you?
Design tips: Hang your blind under the stained glass panel so it’s beauty is always visible, even when the blind is closed. If you’d like to add softness, hang drapes on a rod that extends past the window on each side. That way, when the drapes are open, you can clear the window and show off the stained glass. To accentuate the height of your room, hang the rod above the window trim, just under the crown molding. We decided to go with a contemporary white roller blind and no drapes, to balance out the traditional style of this house. xo
This reno started with the best of intentions, I aspired to tackle one room at a time, from start to finish…really? I should know better. I didn’t want to live in a house in which every room was in a state of construction/reno/mess. Keeping this in mind, a wonky blind got me started on the living room window (was I just supposed to put the new blind up without filling holes, priming and painting the window first?) This is turning into an exciting side project because of the original stained glass window that was hidden in the basement! It will be a labour of love to clean this up and figure out how to mount it in the window (Adam? Shane? Byron? any ideas?) The living room is supposed to wait until the upstairs is done but I fear this might turn into a ‘might-as-well project’. As in, might as well paint the walls, might as well replace the sconces, might as well, might as well…hey, we’ve all been there right? At least the neighbours won’t see me fighting with the blind anymore. xo
One of these is the master bedroom ‘before’ colour and one is the ‘after’. Do you know which is which?
We thought we’d be a lot further along and have at least one room completed. But nooooooo. Life and renovations don’t actually work like that. Although we are sleeping in the master bedroom, it is far from finished. And until the bedframe comes at the end of January, there will be no beautiful before and after pics for you! I may however, entice you with a few sneak peeks as we move forward…
Guess what we started instead? Adam’s woodshop! The beautiful December weather inspired us to get him a proper work space so he is not sawing inside the house over the winter, sensible no? And there is also the fact that I wasn’t ready to start the bathroom (the real reason). Here are a few pics of the progress so far. I am actually a bit jealous as I can already see how fantastic it is going to be. Can you see it too? Here are the before pics, just click on an image to see the gallery close up.
And here are a few of the in between stages. Keep in mind, like all renovations, it gets worse before it gets better! And yes, the siding has a slight pink tinge – just lovely.
And just for fun and because it’s a little gross, here are some inside shots!
We look forward to finishing the window installation before the snow comes and sharing the next phase with you. Until then… xoxo
We are Adam and Rachel. Two creative souls from Toronto who have recently made the HUGE life changing decision to leave the big city for a smaller, greener community where we can have lots of creative adventures! The last six months have been a whirlwind of learnings as we let go of our big city pace, rode our bikes, explored the trails and got to know our new city of London, Ontario. Finding a house proved more difficult than we thought – after five months of searching, 6 offers and two bidding wars we finally found the place we now call home. If you are interested in joining us during the top-to-bottom renovation of this 105 year old, yellow brick beauty, please follow along on this blog. We will be transforming this home one room at a time and plan to give all the details, design tips, London (and Toronto) resources and of course, before and after photos!