Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The New Home - First Floor

Warning:  This is a long post.  Get yourself a cup of coffee or tea and find a comfy place to sit while you read this one!

Moving into a new home is exciting.  A chance to both recreate what you already love, but also a chance to try out something new and/or different.  Of course, you can't get it all done in a day (even though I'd love to be able to do that!).  The challenge is sorting out the various needs in every room, coming up with a plan, and then doing it in the right sequence.

Since we went through almost two years of renovations in the townhouse, we had a fair bit of stuff in storage.  So along with trying to find a place for everything we had from the townhome, was remembering what was stored away, deciding if we still needed it, and figuring out how to integrate these stored items into everything else.  While doing this we're getting a sense of what each room needs.  It's a big home, so there's a lot to be considered.

Where to begin?  Let's start on the main floor.  We'll visit the upper floor in a separate post.


This is the main entry and exit point for the home.  It needs to have a space to drop things off as you come in as well as a place to put things to be remembered when leaving.  There needs to be some seating so people can put on and take off shoes.  A spot to put wet/dirty footwear.  A place to drop mail.
The foyer came with a music console from the previous owners.  I can't see it staying there permanently, but for now we've put a table lamp for ambiance, a pretty blue runner to camoflage the top a bit, and placed a tray for mail.  We've also put a small mat in front for shoes.  And I've taken one of the dining table chairs (the only one with arms) and placed it here so there's some seating (besides the stairs) - it has become not only a place to sit at when tying up shoes, but also a place to drop Walter's coats off.  The reason Walter's coats are being dropped off there is that they are really too small to hang nicely in the coat closet, plus he needs to be able to get to them so he can dress himself ... the coat closet would be hard for him to reach.  In the townhouse Manuel had made a great little coat rack with hooks for hanging Walter's outdoor wear.  We'd like to hang it opposite to where the music console is, but my teak desk is standing there right now.  I'd love to see that taking over the spot where the music console is with a nice soft mid-century chair next to it.  Then Walter's rack could be hung up on the opposite wall with a nice shoe mat for wet gear.

Dining Room

Directly in from the foyer is the dining room.  We find we're using it for doing homework, artwork, crafts, sewing, etc.  Everything but eating.  I'm sure when we have guests over we'll use it, but we definitely need it to serve multiple roles.

Like the foyer, the dining room came with a dining table, chairs, and sideboard from the previous owners.  Not our style, but for now I think we'll leave these items here.  Perhaps we'll change them with some paint and new fabric for the seats.  We are in the process of changing out the existing curtains with some curtains that were in Walters new bedroom.  We need to change out the rod and I'll have to trim down the over-long curtains and sew a hem before we can hang them.

The sideboard is housing some of Walters puzzles, games, and craft materials, but it's not big enough to hold it all.  Besides the sideboard we have a tall narrow table that Manuel originally built to hold an aquarium.  It's served as a change table when Walter was a baby, a desk in the townhouse guest room, and right now it's being used to store additional craft materials and toys.  It definitely won't stay there.  On one of the short walls we've hung a shooter case that Manuel built (we still haven't found the box with all the shooter glasses - hopefully we'll find that soon!).  Beneath it we've placed a small folding bookcase where some of Walters books have been placed.  It looks too small for this spot and I'm thinking some kind of dresser, bureau, hutch, sideboard should go there to house more puzzles, craft work, and treasured artwork (Walter loves to hold on to everything he's created or received).  If I find something that will work there I'll probably replace the tall narrow table with the folding bookcase since it would look nicer there than the table does.  (Where the tall narrow table would go after that?  I'm not sure.)

Living Room

This space is huge - 21'4" x 13'1" - we don't have enough furniture to fill it properly.  I think we've determined that it's more of a visiting space, a place to read and/or listen to music.  A place to relax and chat.  We've decided no TV is going to be put in this space.

It too came with something from the previous owners.  In this case a rather large, traditional sofa.  We've put my old Ikea Klippan sofa in there too, and there's still a sense of emptiness.  We have an old two-drawer dresser, a music stand for the stereo equipment, and on the far back wall beside the fireplace a china cabinet that Manuel built.  There's a rather large space in front of the china cabinet, next to the over-sized sliders that lead out to the balcony.  It would look weird to leave it totally bare, but it wouldn't be appropriate to add another sofa.  Perhaps some kind of lounger/chaise?

Both the front bay window and the back sliders have curtains that I'm not overly fond of.  I'm not sure, though, what to replace them with.  They'll need to compliment the furniture and since the furniture isn't quite settled yet ... we'll probably leave them as is for the time being.


The kitchen looks like it's basically original to the house.  Too dark for my liking, but it functions fairly well.  The window by the sink could do with some softening - perhaps a fake Roman shade.  You know - the kind that doesn't actually work, but hangs from the top to soften the window box, and add some definition and colour?  The reason why I don't want a working window covering is that the window ledge has become home to a lot of ... stuff.  Like plants, knick-knacks, doodads.

Other than the window covering, I feel like I could live with the kitchen as-is IF we could just paint the inside and outside of the cupboards a light colour.  I'm finding I can't see too well into the cupboards which means I'm not utilizing them very well.  By painting the interiors a light colour there will be more ambient light (dark interiors just suck up all the light that tries to get in).

We did agree that the little closet that is probably meant to be used for brooms desperately needs some shelving so that it can be more functional.  We've got some ideas on this and hopefully Manuel can put something together in the not too distant future.

Family Room

The Family Room is basically an extension to the kitchen.  There is a door that leads to outside stairs that allow quick access to the garden.  Beyond that is a space where we've put our old round dining table.  A rather overbearing brick gas fireplace sits on the far wall, flanked by two floor to ceiling oak bookcases.  It's not a big space (17'2" x 10'4"), somewhat narrow.

It also came with a sofa and armchair, both somewhat reminiscent of mid-century although I'm not sure of their origins.  We've added an old antique stereo console and placed our TV on top of this.  The window in this room had no covering, so we took the curtains from the upstairs guest room, trimmed them down and hemmed them before hanging them here.

This room is used constantly by us.  It's so nice to be able to cook a meal while the boys are right there.  We can chat, play and totally hang out together.  No one is in another room, isolated.

Although the armchair is quite comfy, the sofa is only so-so.  I'm not sure if changing out the foam seating would make a difference (it's one of those three-part sofa pillow types).  Perhaps a single length of foam seating would make a difference.  Still, the arms are hard wood, and the throw pillows that came with it just don't give any support.  We've got to figure out something.

Powder Room

The Powder room was missing a mirror when we moved in.  Thankfully, we had a lovely mid-century, wooden mirror that we've been able to place there.

We will eventually need to do something with the vanity.  Also, the toilet ... sucks!  How else can I say it?  You have to hold the handle down until the water whirls away before you can let go.  And it likely uses a zillion gallons of water per flush (yeah, yeah, a slight stretch, but you know what I mean!).  Also, the laminate wood floors from the foyer extend into this room.  Big no-no.  We'll have to take these out and put some tile down in the not-too-distant future.


I'm going to mention the garage here too.

One thing we really wanted when we were shopping for our next home was space for Manuel to use as a workshop.  Well, this home came with an attached two-car garage.  Right now it's filled with everything that we haven't had a chance to go through, that we knew could handle an unheated space.  Manuel has managed to put up his metal racks, and is slowly working through everything.  I can't wait for everything to be sorted through here - I'm so excited for him!

Well.  That's it for the main floor.  In our next posting we'll move up to the second floor to see how it's laid out and what we need to do there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The New Home

It's been 26 days since we moved into our new home.  We've settled in, have our daily workaday routine ... but we still have lots of boxes to empty out.  I'm overwhelmed by how much stuff we have.  We came from a 1400 square foot townhouse.  Our stuff fit in there fine.  Our new home, with its 3000 square feet, is causing me grief.  I can't find places to put all that stuff.  With more than double the square footage it should be easy.  And it's not that the place is lacking closets.  It's just well ... I don't quite know.  Somehow what worked so well in the townhouse doesn't work here.

In any case, let me give you some photos so you have a sense of what we've moved into.

This is what the outside looks like.  It is a basic contemporary with some colonial details.  It plays small from the outside, but it's got 1000 square feet on each of its three levels.  From this outside aspect you see the main and upper floors; the basement is a walk-out to the backyard, so actually gets plenty of light.  It was built in 1980 and we are only its second owners.  The trees you see at the back of the house are part of the park reserve that the house backs onto ... so no neighbours back there.  We are truly enjoying the quiet of our new neighbourhood. 

Here's where we are at right now.  A living room still filled with unopened boxes and 99% of our artwork still to be hung - hiding behind a huge sofa that was left behind by the previous owners.

Speaking of things left behind - we did agree that the previous owners could leave some furniture behind.  We inherited the aforementioned sofa, a full dining set with buffet, table and seven chairs, a large stereo cabinet stationed in the front foyer, and another sofa and armchair in the family room.  I can't say any of the pieces speak to me, but we're trying to incorporate them into our belongings.  Here's a collage showing the stereo cabinet (top left), and the dining set, including a detailed shot of one of the chairs.

There are things I'm not sure what to do about.  For instance, the chandelier in the dining room?  Definitely not my style.  Perhaps I'll spray paint it some bold colour?

And there are other "design" issues.  A crystal chandelier in the foyer, a country-inspired pendant in the stairwell, and ... umm, lace curtains in the stairwell window.  No, none of them "speak" to me.  I think I will have to find replacements for the lights and beg Manuel to take down the curtain.

My study?  The thing I've dreamed about for eons?  It's a bit of a caterpillar waiting to become a butterfly!

But the most perplexing thing for us is the main bathroom.  It has, what we jokingly call the indoor pool, a huge bathtub.  It is surrounded by a sharp-edged, tiled platform that scares me as a Mother.

Still, Walter has managed to infuse some decor changes to this space.

Maybe I should take a cue from him and use stickers when I'm at a loss of what to do?

PS:  For the first time I have won something from a Blog giveaway!  Rosa, from Flutter Flutter, was giving away tickets to BC Home and Garden show.  I won them.  We're so excited - it's a perfect chance to check out products and ideas.  There are so many things we'd like to do in this new home and we're hoping to get truly inspired.  Thanks, Rosa.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Not Gone ... Just Overwhelmed!

Just a quick note to say we are all alive.  We have moved into our new home and we're just trying to get everything unboxed.  Deciding where to put everything is hard.  It's incredible to think that all this stuff we have used to fit into a 1400 square foot townhome and now that we are living in a 3000+ square foot home you'd think we'd have lots of space.  Space?  Yes ... but it's trying to fit the old patterns in a new environment that makes it challenging.  I'm having to think up new solutions.

Still ... we love our new home.

I am hoping to get a chance this weekend to snap some photos of how things are right now, so that as we begin to make changes - renovate, decorate, reinvent - that you'll be able to see Before and After photos.