The Month of Renovations

renovation-start.jpgI haven't spoken too much about this because, at the time we were doing it, we wanted it to be a surprise.

Back in December, my mother-in-law and her husband rented out their condominium to a nice young family, and used the funds to head south for the winter (good choice). The lease they signed was for six months, but they still expected to return to Ontario in early April (not such a good choice in retrospect). So, for the three months, at least, between their return from Florida and the end of their tenants' lease, we decided the best thing was to have them bunk in with us.

The guest room, such as it was, was my downstairs office, and while it was still a functional office, it had taken something of a beating over the past couple of years. We'd had a leak from the concrete wall, thanks to a eavestroph issue that we solved, and it meant that we had to rip out the carpet, leaving the concrete floor. There was a couch that expanded into a guest bed, but it was less than comfortable, and not a pleasant experience to be had by someone planning to stay for more than a few days.

But we decided to look at this as an opportunity. We had to lay down new flooring in the basement office -- that was a given. However, we also had two other rooms that were not living up to their full potential and were instead dumping grounds for stuff we needed to store. There was an actual storage room in behind the basement office, and there was a sun room upstairs, that we had planned to use as a kid's play room, but was now a storage repository for the kids games and other things.

The upstairs sun room was bright, and could function quite reasonably as an office. In any event, I was finding myself upstairs more than often, working at the dining room table while the kids were at home. This arrangement was precisely the reason why we decided we needed to move to a place with more room, like a dedicated office. The sun room was right behind the dining room that I was using as a de-facto office.

So, the plan came together. We would pull out all of the books and bookcases in the office and move everything into the sunroom upstairs. We would buy flooring and waterproof underlay at Lowes to provide a finished floor for the old office, now guest room. My desk would be moved behind one of the big windows in the sun room, and some of the bookcases mounted to the walls there. And the storage room... now there was an opportunity. If we pulled off the door and turned it into an alcove of the old office, we could place a bed in there, and make the guest room space much more livable.

This required not just removing all of the stuff in the storeroom, but pulling down and actually finishing the walls and the ceiling, and we knew that this was beyond us. So this was the surprise. We hired a contractor, one of two candidates who really impressed us, to strip everything back to the concrete, put in new studs and drywall, finish the ceiling and fix the electrical.

That was our March, and the late part of February, and some of April too. We rearranged our storage needs (moving some shelves to the laundry room), culled what we could, sold a surprising amount of stuff on Kijiji, and bought a lot of stuff on Kijiji. We laid down surprisingly unforgiving vinyl flooring while our contractor did amazing things, and we were mostly done for the reveal when my mother-in-law and her husband surprised us by arriving early.

We are exhausted, but quite proud of what's been accomplished, here. The new space has added quite a lot of value to the home, and the office, while still somewhat cluttered, has come together in a really good way that hasn't hampered my productivity. Erin even comes in to sit with me occasionally, which is something she didn't do when my office was downstairs.

I'd like to thank Cameron Dixon who came up to Kitchener and willingly got put to work laying down the new flooring. And I'm thankful for the patience of my family, as they put up with a month of chaos. In the end, it has really been worth it.

You can see pictures of the renovation in progress on my Flickr here.


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