I’ve come to believe that the virtues of home renovation are patience and flexibility. Oliver agrees. For those of you who have renovated or are currently renovating, what do you think? Do you agree too?

So we’ve been in our new house for 3-1/2 months now. We had not planned on doing any renovations. It was perfectly fine the way it was. But, having gone through the recent sale of my condo, it made me think. Why did I wait to add/fix things until I was leaving? Why didn’t I do it sooner rather later so I could enjoy the improvements? Of course, sometimes it’s the money. But interestingly, we can usually find the money when we have to sell. And a lot of the time…ok maybe some of the time…it doesn’t cost that much.

Better now than later…

Since my sister and I intend on staying in this house for the long term, we decided let’s make it the way we want it, now. We want to enjoy living here. And it made sense to do the renos before we’d fully moved all the furniture into rooms.

With that in mind, we started with un-stippling the ceilings. I could have easily talked myself out of this, but my sister really wanted to get this done. And she was right. It was a big job…3 bedrooms, a hallway, dining room, living room with vaulted ceiling, and lower level family room.

Scaffolding and painter's cloths in our living room in preparation for unstippling the vaulted ceiling.

Un-stippling our ceilings

Kenny was recommended to us and he was awesome. He was thorough, meticulous, worked around our schedule of getting new hardwood floors (more on that), and is a really nice person. If you need some ceiling or drywall work done, he’s your guy. I will gladly pass on his contact info.

Back to flooring…

We installed hardwood floors in the upper level bedrooms and hallway. At first we were going to simply replace the carpets. Then we decided it was better in the long run to update with hardwood despite the higher cost. The challenge was matching the existing hardwood in the living room/dining room.

I have to say Joe at Alexanian Carpet & Flooring on Industrial Ave was good to work with. He recommended we carpet the 4 steps up from the main level to the upper level because: a) it’s expensive to do hardwood on stairs; and b) it would provide a visual break between the existing hardwood and the new hardwood. Let me tell you, it took a lot of samples in different lights, at different times of the day to decide on the right colour.

The virtues of home renovation by Colleen Kanna, Photo of new hardwood flooring upstairs that matches the existing hardwood floors downstairs.

Pretty good match of hardwood floors

There were a few delays in ordering and coordinating with the ceiling work and getting the job done. However, the hardwood installer who was a little rough around the edges did an amazing job. In the end, it all turned out better than we’d imagined. It was worth living in chaos for 6 weeks.

One thing leads to another…

Once you start renovating, you start seeing other things that need updating. With the new flooring and carpeting on the stairs, suddenly the bannister looked old-fashioned and out of place. So we decided to paint it. At the same time, we painted my daughter’s bedroom white. We went with a painter who was highly recommended. It was the first and only time so far that we’ve been disappointed.

The company was very responsive and did the job quickly. However, the 3 painters who showed up seemed inexperienced and did not do a great job given the price. They tried hard but their lack of attention to detail was evident. So the owner sent one of their best painters out a few days later and he basically re-did the whole job. And then another painter came out to put on one more coat in the bedroom because it still had a green hue from the original paint.

We do like the more modern look of the black and white bannister.

Freshly painted black and white bannisters.

Black & white bannister to go with our spotted stairs

At the end of the day, the company was true to its word. They kept at it until we were satisfied and we didn’t have to pay until that point. But, to be honest, I would not go with them again.

Moving on to furniture…

With the basic renos completed, it was time to get some new furniture. We purchased orange dining room chairs from Structube. Not the best quality but the price was right. On sale for $69 per chair. We went to their megastore in Kanata and spent a couple of hours sitting on chairs, lol. The sales people left us to our own devices. We finally decided on the style and colour, then went home and ordered online. The chairs were delivered in 2 days. We think they add a nice pop of colour and complement our mom’s teak dining room table.

Our dining room with hardwood floors, teak table, orange chairs, and painting on the wall.

Orange dining room chairs for a pop of colour


New sectional sofa…

Next up was the lower level family room. It was calling for a comfy sectional sofa for watching Netflix. We didn’t want to scrimp on this purchase and we wanted Canadian made. I discovered Cozey, a Canadian company based in Quebec, while listening to a podcast. Of course, I checked them out online and was impressed with the quality and mix and match options.

Most of all, I liked their customer service. We couldn’t decide on the size…a 3 section or 4 section sofa. A customer service rep suggested we purchase the 4 section. If it was too big, we could return 1 section. It would be easier than starting with 3 sections and then having to order and wait for another section. There was no risk involved because they have a 30 day money back guarantee with free shipping.

The sofa arrived quickly. I came home one day to 10 large boxes in our living room weighing a total of 300 lbs. I should have taken a photo! So imagine my sister and I opening and unpacking these large heavy boxes. Let me just say, getting an awkward 45 lb. piece of furniture out of a tight fitting box is challenging. And then we had to get each piece down the stairs to the family room. It was quite the workout.

3 sections or 4…

We placed the bases side by side to get a feeling for the size as the customer service rep suggested. We debated back and forth over 3 sections or 4. At the end of the day, we decided 3 sections with a chaise on one end and an ottoman with storage on the other end was plenty big enough. After all, there is typically just the two of us and the dog. So we had to wrestle one section back up the stairs and into its box.

The virtues of home renovation by Colleen Kanna, Photo of our new dark grey sectional sofa with yellow & blue pillows, wooden tray, white & grey throw, and a grey & white Oliver.

Oliver likes our new sofa

The return process was easy. We got a shipping label, scheduled a pick up time with Purolator, and it was gone the next business day. The refund appeared on my credit card within a week. The sofa was easy to put together. It kind of snaps together like a big mechanix set. It’s sturdy and very good quality.

What’s next…

So what’s next you may be asking? Or not, lol. We need 2 new basement windows to make it a legal living space down there. Should there ever be a fire, and hopefully that’s never, we need to be able to get out quickly and easily. The windows are large enough but they swing up and there’s not enough space to crawl out safely. So we’re in the process of getting quotes. Like everything else, it’s way more expensive than you think.

Last on the list are the bathrooms. This will be the biggest reno we’re undertaking. We’ve had several quotes and have decided on the contractor. It will be done in the Fall and will take about 4 weeks, fingers crossed. Although as I said at the beginning, the virtues of home renovation are patience and flexibility…and maybe a bit of luck thrown in.

So that’s our home update…for now…

Until next time,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna

I’m a recovered Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer. My COKANNA Canadian-made bamboo clothing is all about comfort and style. Giving back to the community is important to me so I support local breast cancer organizations who treat the whole person and not just the disease.