From the day we bought our home (you can read about that here), we started planning the renovation and design of our space.
We scribbled in notepads, drafted the home in SketchUp, hoarded inspiration on Pinterest , and created a massive excel Master List of SKUs and specs. Mike is not only a builder, but he’s super organized (yes, it’s pretty awesome), so he’s been heading up the overall schedule and plan of attack, and prompting me at each stage to source and make final decisions on everything from plumbing fixtures to passage sets. We may not have a name for the place yet (we know it’ll come to us in time, especially once we’re in there), but we already have windows, appliances, flooring and siding confirmed. Ha!
We’re doing it this way to make the demo and re-build as efficient as possible, knowing issues will arrive. Also, we’ve been able to do all of this quickly because we kind of know exactly what we want. It also helps that the home is quite basic—which we like. Plus, there are many aspects (like the ceiling and structure) that we can’t easily change and don’t want to. So we’re dealing with original warm pine, which has dictated a lot of the design rules for us—and we’re happy to oblige!
That said, putting in this amount of design work ahead of getting the keys is a little complicated (and not totally recommended because we’re not there to confirm sizes on the fly, or visualize ideas as we go), so we’ve been keeping records of everything and taking tons of photos for reference. Thank goodness Mike does this for work, so he’s been able to get the ball rolling on orders he knows have long lead times, like windows.
Anyhow, we’ve only just begun and it’s already been a lot of work—and a lot of fun. We move in… 5 weeks! So we’ve already begun packing and are loading anywhere from five to fifteen QMM boxes a night. So while our ideas, old and new, are top of mind, I wanted to share a bit about our process so far, introduce you to the home’s original floor plans and elevations, and show you our design plan.
Above are the elevation drawings from when the home was first constructed in May 1988.
Originally built for a local Doctor and his family as their summer home, the structure is essentially a 21′ x 21′ square comprised of a grid of posts and beams every 5’4″. Elongated with an attached garage off the rear, the pitch and second-story roofline give the otherwise cube-y home an endearing tower effect. Just look at how cute this view is! It was our favourite, instantly.
We won’t be changing much in regards to the exterior architecturally, but once we’ve addressed some water damage (yay), we’ll be re-siding the home and replacing the windows and doors. We plan to use a thermally-modified wood product, and install it in tandem with the new deck which will expand along the left side of the house to accommodate a new entry door (replacing the current window, seen above).
The main floor will see the biggest change in terms of layout. We’ll remove the tile floor, gut the bathroom and kitchen, create a new entryway in the existing laundry room, and re-configure the stairs. New fir floors will be installed, a new custom kitchen will span the current kitchen and dining room, and the bathroom will be reconfigured and expanded. With the stairs now landing in the entryway, the living room can breathe more, and we will replace the fireplace.
Upstairs, we will combine the master bedroom and loft to create one massive master suite with a home office and large closet. And in the basement, we’ll build a new laundry and mechanical room (where the study is currently), renovate the bathroom, and update the family room and bedroom with the same fir flooring used throughout the rest of the home. Eventually, we’ll re-do the decking off the back porch to include a hot tub and build a separate studio building in the backyard.
Design-wise, we both automatically gravitated toward softer textures, warm whites, black fixtures and hardware, simple flush-front millwork and light knotty floors. Given that we’re keeping the warm pine ceiling, we’re going to have to be very careful when selecting the wood floors, matching the grain and hue to avoid clashing with the pine, but in a much lighter tone. Other details we like are outlined on this mood board:
One thing’s for sure, the millwork will dictate a lot of the design.
With a smaller home, we want to minimize the amount of furniture and maximize the wall space with built-ins on every floor rather than relying on bought shelves, dressers etc. The day the cabinetry goes in will be a huge day, and will no-doubt be one of the bigger expenses of the project.
Colour-wise, it’s tough to come to the right choice–especially when you’re looking at Pinterest and scrolling Instagram for inspiration. Often I’ll come across a pretty photo of a space that makes me question certain choices and colours, so I’ve found it’s important to always return to the things you know and can’t change. Go back to the actual options you have and the realities you have to work with, then see what works. These photos are of different homes in different light with edits and tweaks made after the fact. Don’t let inspiration photos alone dictate your choices, look at the actual product photos provided by suppliers and bring them into the space together. I can’t wait to get in there to test colours and stains, but in the meantime a helpful way to visualize your ideas quickly is by mocking up images in Photoshop.
At one point, we doubted our choice to forgo trim and baseboard, and install black windows, so I created the rendering above based on a photo I took, leaving all instances of wood/posts/beams that must remain, “drywalling” over the trim, and painting in drywall returns. A quick paste and transform of a black window and the floors from our supplier, and we could better see our idea in context. It confirmed that we liked this look. Doesn’t it make the whole space airier and brighter, while keeping the chalet charm? For me, visualizing it helps confirm and inform our choices and I plan to do this every step of the way when we’re stumped.
Anyhow, I shared a walk-through tour of the original space on my Instagram (click on CHALET in my Highlights), so have a peek if you want a better sense of the floor plan. We may change our minds on many of these choices, but that’s just the reality of designing and renovating your own home, and in the meantime, we forge on…