The Reno_Siding installed


It’s been a while since I showcased a full “Before and After” of a project, and this one has been sitting on my memory card for a while. Don’t be deceived by the after; our home is now a winter wonderland. I thought I’d also talk a bit about materials and costs, since I know some of you are here because you are rocking your own renos.

The project

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The back addition and attached garage had three issues: 1- The kitchen (which takes up the entirety of the back addition) needed better insulation, 2- The kitchen window hung too low for our new kitchen set-up, and 3- And this is the obvious one..the attached garage is visually disjointed.

Of the two outside walls in the back addition, we had managed to insulate the other one from the inside, by taking down the plaster, insulating it to the teeth, and drywalling it. Since the other side of the house needed to be unified from the addition to the end of the garage, we decided to re-wrap the house from the outside. This also meant that we didn’t simply tear down and throw out what was already there; the original clapboard and sawdust insulation is working hard to give that wall an extra little nudge of insulation.

The materials

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When we started thinking about materials, we were both on the same page: Since the original house is sided with wood clapboard and we will be maintaining the clapboard around the rest of the house, we sought out wood clapboard the matched what was already there. It may not be the most practical, but it’s true to the original construction and I am a sucker for that kind of thing.

We used foil-sided foam insulation which we attached right to the existing clapboard using those funny nails with the green hats. Ahem.

The cost

Here is roughly what we spent on this project:

  • Wood clapboard – $700
  • New kitchen window – $200
  • Previously loved door with large window – $10
  • Foil-sided foam insulation – $80
  • Paint- $50

All told, that brings us to about $1030.

We saved some money on the paint, which was a mis-tint that nearly exactly matched what we wanted. The door was another great bargain.

I’m convinced that, if we were a bit more crafty when sourcing materials, we could have done the project for about $800. We didn’t bargain-shop for the wood clapboard, since we were in a bit of a hurry to get this done before winter. We could also have saved some money on the new window, but again, we had to move on that quickly to finish off the project.

The next steps

You may have noticed that this wood is as naked as the day it was born. We missed the window to paint it–temperatures weren’t staying consistently warm enough. I’ve also heard that actually having a year of weathering is good for the wood, and that orange/yellow tint should mellow over the winter.

I hope you enjoyed this little full-scope, before/after renovation summary! I hope it will be of interest to other who are planning a “budget”, minimalist, low-waste renovation of their own. Would you be interested in hearing how much a kitchen renovation done in the same spirit cost us…?

Spend Nothing-uary

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Happy New Years! Somehow, we’ve all made our way across the threshold into 2016. As for me, I was among some really great friends in the midst of our annual (lightly debaucherous) cottage retreat when the clock struck midnight. There’s something about the holidays–from about December 12th (my birthday) and onwards–that slowly becomes more and more unhinged. Wine every night? Why not. Spend that extra $100 for a Christmas gift? Sure thing. Avoid exercise, yoga, and really anything physical until January? Nailed it.

I can’t be the only one who craves the slow crawl of early January and the resolute goal-setting that comes with it. I am drawn to New Years Resolutions. But instead of “resolutions” I like to think of goals that I’d like to accomplish. Goal setting, for me, shifts the focus of resolutions onto our desired outcomes.

My personal goals for 2016 are all starting with a general re-commitment to mindfulness, and intentional living. I’ve adopted a daily mindfulness practice, for example. I’ve also set up some guidelines for my daily life, including new habits that will help me to achieve those goals. Conversely, I’ve schemed to put myself through a couple challenges to help me break habits that are keeping me from achieving my goals.

Enter “Spend Nothing-uary”. Catchy, isn’t it? The idea is to spend nothing in January, beyond groceries, gas, and existing bills. As I was preparing this blog post, a friend of mine posted that she was doing a true-to-form “Spend Nothing-uary”, complete with no groceries and only one tank of gas. The “pantry deep-dive” edition. While I find that super inspiring, I’m going to be doing the “lite” edition: Groceries (especially fresh fruit and veg) and gas are on the menu.

My intended outcomes are to:

  • Not seek out distractions (dinners out, new toys, movies in the theatre, etc) in order to recommit to my goals;
  • Develop more awareness of when and where I am drawn to spend money;
  • Align my spending habits with a minimalist approach;
  • Start saving more money on a month to month basis;
  • Appreciate what I already have.

I’ll check in when January is done to let you know how it went. So far, so good. I almost went to see Star Wars before I realized that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of groceries or gas.

Do you think you could muscle your way through a month without spending any of that hard-earned cash?

The House Diaries_009: Is this my kitchen?





We’re closing in on 2016 and it seems fitting that our reno is starting to kick up a few real gems, including one amazing, functional, and farmhouse-sexy kitchen. Isn’t she a beaut?

The photo features a lot of little details that are a credit to my wonderful family and friends who have been inspired to contribute to the project, too. I am not over exaggerating when I say that without them, the pictures above would feature some half-taped drywall and exposed wiring. Instead, they feel surreal. How and when did this happen? I am in love with the vintage school lights and clock, the decorative pot set and the vintage pyrex bakeware. Each were lovingly sourced and gifted.

My favourite piece (and it’s a tough choice) is our new pot-rack and matching shelves, all finished with iron brackets crafted Quebec. Can you believe it is handmade?! What?! I am chuffed. What’s more: This was a Christmas present. I am truly lucky beyond comprehension to have really creative, industrious people who love me.

The past few months have gone by so quickly, and I often found myself reluctant to document it in greater detail. By and large it’s been rewarding, but the physical and mental effort has been unlike much that I’ve experienced in my lifetime so far. Truly, I doubt if I’ve worked on anything this consistently with this much effort. It seems right that I get to cap this year off with such a beautiful photo. It’s a nice tribute to 10 months of work.

I have made it a personal goal to document the project more fully as the new year rolls over. A resolution, you might even say. I already miss some of the funny, messy moments, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten even more. I also think that, at this point, I may get to show off a few more finished details which is much nicer to look at than a series of photos of half-peeled wallpaper.

Though, there’s plenty more of that to come, too.