One year in, we got the pandemic itch. How so? Well, like so many others, we decided we needed a change. And so the journey started as we left our “forever” house in Moncton (that we had just built in 2018) and decided to make Halifax home. After searching for a few months, we found a home we loved, in a neighbourhood we loved, but even as we signed on the dotted line we knew we had to make some changes in order to make it comfortable for our family. So this is the story of our year-long renovation and the highs and lows along the way!
Interior Design Inspiration: Switching Gears
Our house in Moncton was extremely modern. It was a new build that allowed us to incorporate elements I loved (think large windows, high ceilings and an open concept floor plan) with my husband’s clean modern aesthetic. We had built the house before we had kids and while I still liked our house, after adding two kids to our family the modern feel had somewhat lost its “homey” appeal. I really wanted to turn this around in our next home to create a more cozy, warm and inviting family friendly environment.
When I first walked into the house we ended up purchasing in Halifax, it immediately ticked all of these boxes. I knew it had the makings of an amazing family home. It was built in 2007 and the layout and finishes leaned much more traditional than where we were coming from. It was a labour of love to update the home from top to bottom, maintaining the original character of the home while sprinkling in our personalities along the way.
After showing my husband different options that I felt fit our style, we both came to love a lot European design inspiration, in particular Banda Properties, Jessica Helgerson Design and Hendricks Churchill to name a few. These designers signature style married classic and traditional hard finishes with more contemporary colorful soft finishes. Check out below for some of our starting points of inspiration.
Source: Banda Property
Source: Jessica Helgerson Design
Source: Hendricks Churchill
The Renovation Process
Another big piece of the puzzle in the beginning was choosing a contractor and settling on our budget. As a designer (and homeowner who just went through this process) here’s some thoughts I would share before diving into your reno:
- Be realistic about your timeline. Your renovation will take longer than expected and there will be surprises along the way. This is inevitable and if you are prepared for this, it will be easier to stay calm and make good decisions when the unexpected does arise.
- Think about how you will live in the space and consider what is and isn’t working, especially if this is a home you just purchased or a new build. Things sometimes sound great in theory but if it doesn’t work for you and your family then it shouldn’t be incorporated into the scope of work. For example, we turned a small laundry room into a second upstairs bathroom and then added laundry to another part of the house. Having the second bathroom has been a lot more functional for our family than a dedicated laundry space that couldn’t fit more than a washer and dryer.
- If you receive a quote from a contractor, always review allowances. These are essentially place holders for costs. For example, a contractor may allow $8/sq ft for tile but in reality, you fell in love with a tile mosaic that is $15/sq ft. Or those custom light fixtures from Pinterest that are on your “must have” list, but the contractor has budgeted for generic pieces from local hardware stores. By asking questions about these allowances and what they encompass you can be sure there are fewer surprises when it comes to expectations versus reality.
- Consider items that will not show up in your contractors quote and set aside money for these. This may include furniture to suit your new space, window coverings, wallpaper, mirrors, and decorative items like art, bathroom mirrors, pillows, and rugs to name a few. These things eventually add up and it’s important to have a budget to account for them.
- Get as much professional advice as you feel you need. This can vary depending on the size of the project, your budget and your level of confidence. Even though I was running my own design business in Moncton, I knew that between the pandemic, running my own business and having two small children at home I couldn’t be in Halifax enough tto give this project the level of attention it required. This is exactly why I decided to partner with Stil James- they were my boots on the ground. And I guess you could say…the rest is history!
I hope this list can help anyone considering a renovation (either as a DIY’er or with a designer). After interviewing a few contractors, we were finally ready to get started on our renovation so stay tuned for Part 2 of our new home story!