Friday, 30 April 2010

Well the floors are finished and they are nothing short of spectacular. We are pinching ourselves, as yet again we have nothing but good things to say about the fellows who did it. And this time round we were really taking a bit of a gamble as neither of us knew anything about them. I'd noticed their van parked in the Hood and taken down their number. Manu had read about them in the paper... Then, when we met them for a quote, we were charmed by their earth friendly products. That and the fact that we wouldn't have to move out of the house for a week. We were sold.

So they came, they saw, they sanded, they stained, and finally they varnished. No fuss, no muss and almost no dust. The process was so easy that I can barely believe that it is over. And the results are stupendous.

That's it then, the worst is over. No more mopping the floors when we get home from work, no more washing the pots before we use them, and no more little people with blackened feet. We just have one MASSIVE spring cleaning job to do first.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Before: the kitchen that taste forgot

For the past two and a half years, we have been living with a kitchen that is so laughably ugly that really anything, even a hole in the ground, would be a step up. Okay, in all fairness, we did apply a lick of paint and installed some el cheap-o vinyl black and white tiles on the floors, just to make it palatable. But the fact remains, that by even the most benevolent person's standards, it is an eyesore.

Thankfully, Manu's cooking talent is so great that our meals have never been a reflection of their surroundings. But the washing up has been painful. Zero counter space, a peeling counter, not to mention a view on the most ungodliest back splash have made doing the dishes, never our favourite chore, an unspeakable penance.

So now that we are only but a few weeks away from kitchen salvation, our aprons are all aflutter: the plans have been drawn up, the cabinets ordered, the counter top chosen, the appliances purchased… We are, as they say in the restaurant biz "cooking with gas". Or at least we will be.

The inspiration, via Style at Home

The cabinets, range and fridge will be along the far right wall
opposite will be a 9 foot by 30 inch island

The marble slab

The faucet

Counter depth fridge

The oh so nifty dual gas range

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The buried treasure, our now crisp, clean floor boards

The stair risers will be painted white

The stain swatches, we prefer the one to the left

Oh happy day! The floors are being sanded.

I am constantly amazed at how with old houses, the beauty is in the subtraction. Under the dusty grey wall to wall carpet, under the thin post-war hardwood, under several decades of paint and grime: beautiful, rich, wooden treasure!

When you think of it, 10 months to erase almost 125 years of design missteps is small penance for the everlasting joy that these charm infused floors will bring us.

Miraculously, the whole process should be almost painless, or at least odor less. In our previous life, when we lived in the condo, new neighbours would invariably mean a week of headache and nausea inducing odors caused by atrociously toxic floor stain. But thankfully, the eco tsunami that has hit our collective consciousness has even managed to green an old landfill bastion like floor lacquer. So not only will we be able to sleep soundly, our conscience clear, in our own beds, we will also manage, at least this time any way, not to piss off the neighbours.

Like most parents we gage the passage of time by our kids' ages. And seeing as The Little Princess, quite conveniently, was born just two weeks and one day after we moved into the Tall House, she serves as a cute, curly haired, living marker of our time spent there. So I can easily say that we have been living in our beloved ruin for 2 years, 4 months and 5 days. Which, rather embarrassingly, means that we have gone for 2 years, 4 months and 5 days without finalizing the top floor.

Apparently, this is an all too common occurrence with renovations. Be it either from boredom, a short attention span, or just out of sheer frustration, folks tend to start the next project before completing the one at hand. And although there was just but a few days work left to do to finalize that top floor, it required patience that we no longer had. So our bedroom windows remained the original sickly time stained puce, the doors remained unfinished, and the bathroom walls were bare.

Enter Laszlo, our Hungarian, slightly off-white knight. We were so thrilled with the plaster work he'd done on the main floor that we happily asked him back to do the paint. He worked well and was so cheap that it almost wasn't worth the hassle to do it ourselves. And honestly, we found him amusing. But Laszlo the plasterer is very different from Laszlo the painter.

One thing that remained the same was that he preferred to work without an audience. So despite his working on a Saturday, we cleared out of the house. Around 4:30 we dragged ourselves home after having spent every last ounce of energy and then some in the neighbouring parks.

Exhausted, the four of us plunked ourselves down in front of the TV ready to enjoy yet another rip roaring episode of Mickey Mouse Club House (The Princess is obsessed) when from the top floor came a "FUCKINGGG NIGHTMARE!" then, I'm guessing for Manu's sake "VAFFANCULO" followed by unintelligible Hungarian expletives.

Nonchalantly turning up the volume on Mickey Mouse, I went upstairs to see what all the fuss was about.

-Laszlo why are you swearing so much?

-This door, this glass, this hardware its a FUCKINGGGG NIGHTMARE, its taking too long! What time is it? I'm going home!!!

And off he went.

A while after, as The Little Superhero and I were doing our daily bedtime review, those big brown eyes got a little bigger and asked in a barely audible whisper "Mummyyyyyyy, what's a fucking nightmare??"

-I don't know, it must be Hungarian for door frame, my love.

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