Where did the blog go? It’s been over a month! It’s been forever!! I want to see pictures of the renovation! Of the kitchen! Send me something! What happened to the Designer’s Renovation Journey?
Those are some of the comments we’ve received lately from readers and clients. Thank you so much for keeping in touch and caring and reading my words! We were a bit trapped. Unable to post new pics of the kitchen, because…well, until just yesterday, they belonged to someone else…
In the early fall I received a call from someone at MOVATO Home. They publish several home magazines, including Toronto Home Magazine.
“We’d like to feature your kitchen in the magazine. It needs to be complete and ready for photos by January.”
Who says no to that? I was so excited. The Article from the Toronto Home Kitchen issue is below. You can pick up a copy at most newsstands, Chapters, Indigo, Amazon etc. Or you may get a copy from me…I have a few…
Steven (husband who is basically doing the work all on his own), was not so pleased with the deadline. He looked at me, knowing very well that my January deadline really meant the end of December, as I obviously then had to do all of the upholstery, blinds, drapery, styling etc. And I would most definitely need an entire month to do all of that. So…more like beginning of December….
We were at drywalling stage. There was a lot left to do. And with work and the kids and my other responsibilities, I was of little help.
I was tasked with organization, ordering materials, and laying everything out for the guys, so that when they reached the next step in labour, there would be no hold ups.
Here are some highlights:
The kitchen floor tiles. We all know, by now, how very excited I was about those tiles. Hand-made in Mexico, they were, well, let’s just say, imperfect. Which gives them their wonderful charm. And makes installing them a bloody nightmare. They are not level. Not perfectly square. The paint bleeds when they get wet, which we didn’t realize until AFTER we installed them and BEFORE we sealed them. SO you can imagine what that meant once they were installed with BLACK GROUT. They were so porous that as we wiped off the grout, the white in the tiles stained gray. The paint in the tile bled, it was a nightmare. I sat with a bottle of bleach cream and a toothbrush until 2am that night cleaning it up. And in the end, once we carefully sealed them, they were stunning. And the 24 hours we spent perfecting them has given us a lot to laugh about now. I look at them and smile. They are wonderful.
When the wood beam went up, Steven and I stood, staring at it, happy, teary-eyed and in a panic. The wood we used came from the old ceiling joists in the great room. They were fantastic. Huge 2 inches thick by 12 inches wide and 20 feet long. Solid fir. They don’t make ’em like they used to. Not even close. So we kept it all in a pile in the back yard, and figured we could use it all for mantle and beam. But, not being carpenters ourselves, we didn’t realize that when you seal bare fir, it turns pink. Seriously pink. So our dreams of a gray toned antique beam were quashed immediately after installing the beam. I took a scrap and tried several combinations of stains, concoctions of steel wool and vinegar solutions, you name it. And every single thing turned pink or orange or bright red. I was beside myself.
So I went to the “stain guy” at a local paint shop. He laughed at me for a while, and then handed me a walnut stain.
“Use this. It will be dark. But it will match your floors.”
If you want to see me in action, take a look at the Instagram page we have. There’s a video of me staining and a video of Steven laying the tile there. https://www.instagram.com/p/BOxLtSQA51s/?taken-by=monaco_interiors
Steven worked hard. We all did. Gordon, my carpenter, spent entire days, and into the early hours of the morning, installing his cabinetry. It had to be perfect. It all had to be perfect. The floors in our house are not level. Not even close (this may be repeated several times today). But redoing the entire floors worth of joists seemed crazy to us. We didn’t feel like it would matter in the end. We did our best. And then Gordon put down the island base, and cursed us for a few hours while tweaking it to look perfectly level. He is a genius. It’s almost dead on.
An almost tragic setback (exaggerated)
The farmhouse sink arrived. I was so excited. I have dreamt of that sink for my entire adult life. (So about a year lol) I went to work one morning as the countertops were being delivered. This was by far the most amazing moment for me. My countertops were being installed. I LOVE my Fantasy Brown quartzite island countertop. I ran out the door for a meeting, dying a little inside for not being able to watch as they put the counters on. For me, the counters represent 10 days to completion. 10 days for backsplash, plumbing, handles, clean-up, styling etc. 10 days.
A couple of hours later, Steven calls as I am driving on the 404.
“Hon. There is a chip in the sink.” He says it quietly. Almost mumbling. I can hear the fear in his voice.
“What do you mean.” My heart starts beating fast. The photo shoot is in 2 weeks.
“I mean there is a chip on the front rim of the sink. We can’t install it.” He is angry. And terrified I am going to totally go insane. I mean with every single thing we have experienced, this may very well be my tipping point. He is right. It was.
“Swear words. Lots of swear words.” I pulled off the highway and parked my car. Head in my hands.
Then the phone dinged. Text from Steven. Photos of the chip. It was like watching a horror movie. I shook my head in disbelief.
“First world problems. First world problems.” I repeated the mantra to myself a hundred times.
“Okay, if this was a client, what would I do?” I sat and drank my cold coffee and thought. And then I raced over to my office.
I called the manufacturer and asked if they had a fix. They did. They sent me a new sink 3 days later. FOR FREE. It’s under warranty. Seriously!!!
Loving the brick
The backsplash was the next item on our list. It’s an aged “heritage” brick tile. Steven had it installed in a day. And then as I sat and stared at it, not even believing that we were so close to being done, he looked at me and said:
“I like the look of it with the dark gray mortar. We should grout dark.”
By now, if you have read all the blogs, you know that it took me a very long time to make all the design decisions regarding this kitchen. And there was a bag of cream coloured grout sitting on the floor in front of me. Cream. And he now puts out a great idea. And now I am unsure of my decision, which never happens. And now he can’t grout. Because I have to rethink it, and decide. And the last time I had to decide on a colour, it took weeks. And our photo shoot is in 5 days.
I have no blinds. I have no valances. I have no furniture. I have no upholstery. I have no accessories. I have no dishes. It’s all being made or in storage or I haven’t bought it yet. And he is bringing up gray grout. NOW!?!?!?!
I know. First world problems.
So I went online and looked at all my inspiration photos. I looked at vacation shots of restaurants we had been to over the years that I loved. I looked for a few hours and then walked back into the kitchen and said:
“Sorry babe. I know you rarely have a design opinion. But I am sticking to the plan.”
He smiled. Shook his head, telling me I was wrong, and we have cream grout. And I am thankful I stuck to my plan. First instincts should rarely be set aside. They are usually dead on. The brick gives the kitchen a very warm vibe. I get my little bit rustic, little bit bistro, and never have to worry about sealing, staining, splashing or chipping. It’s wonderful.
Once he was complete, and the place was cleaned, and our stuff arrived and we put it all away, I rounded them all up. The photo shoot was the next day.
“No one uses this kitchen until after the pictures are taken.” The nodded. My daughter asking if we were going to be famous and if she was staying home from school to be in the photos.
Toronto Home: The Shoot
It was a pretty crazy day. Snow storm, of course. School buses cancelled. Had to call my neighbour (new nice neighbour) to ask her to pick up my kids.
I stood at the bakery counter for half an hour picking a cake. Yes, that cake in the layout below took me 30 minutes to choose. So you know, it was mango mousse and I ate almost the entire thing in 24 hours.
The trade secrets we learned, watching the photographer shoot for a magazine were vastly different than our experiences shooting for web. He was amazing. And within three hours, had some great shots. His vision taught me a lot about my own vision. I’m good, but in the world of photography, an expert is an expert is an expert. Toronto Home has a damned good expert. He can see the smallest of spots on a faucet, or in a sink. He get’s my concept and worked with me to create images that really spoke of our design ethic. It was a collaborative experience. It was super fun.
The hard part, was not being able to do anything for almost 2 months. No photos online. No blogs about it. Nothing. The kitchen belonged to the magazine now. And until the magazine was published and “out there”, we were silenced. I don’t live well with being silenced. But you know that already.
I got the first look at an actual copy last night. It wasn’t the moment I expected. There were kids screaming everywhere, a dog in my lap and a few people got their hands on it before I did. We’ve had media attention before, don’t get me wrong. But this was bigger. This is MY kitchen in a 6 page spread in a magazine I love. This is personal.
Now, a couple of months later, I have been using the kitchen, cooking up a storm. And I am so happy. I had never realized how happy this space would truly make me. We have an entire floor at our disposal now, which makes still sleeping in the basement a totally bearable experience. The kids spread out, do homework at the island, crafts in the dining room. They help me cook. They produce dances for us to watch. We have game nights, movie nights, dance parties and gourmet dinners. It’s a fantasy come true. And that little bench under the window? It’s mommy’s spot. My warm coffee, a good book and a few minutes of solitude a day. My life has changed.
Oh wait. Steven is upstairs. He’s drywalling. It’s all about to start again.
Scroll down for the magazine layout, and in a week or so, our photos will be in the portfolio on the website.
Thanks for sticking by me! Let’s keep on rolling! Next week, I’ll try and get one done, and maybe give you a few secrets on creating a library on a budget.
And always remember, there’s no place like home!!
Have a terrific day!