Friday, July 27, 2012

House Tour

Here it is, the final post in the Roncesvalles Victorian Reno Diary.  I'm happy to say that after almost half a decade of puttering away on this home, it is DONE!  It has been quite a journey transforming and updating this home, but one that i've enjoyed doing and sharing on this blog.  So what's next?  We're moving on to a new century home a few blocks away, where there will be lots of new projects and a new blog to share those in.

Most of these rooms i've shared before on this blog, but there are a few that i haven't posted ever before, because up until now, they were never finished.  Sorry for the bad lighting, i took these in the evening.

Our entryway:

Our living room:

Our dining room:

Our kitchen:

Our basement:

Sidney's art corner:

Our Laundry Room

Basement Bedroom

Home office (Ex-walk-in closet):

French doors on barn door hardware:

Master bedroom:

Master Bedroom:

Third floor bedroom:

Third floor bedroom:

Sidney's play area:

Sidney's nursery:

Master Bedroom closet:

Hope you enjoyed the journey as much as i did.  Come join me on my new project

Monday, June 25, 2012


In my second post ever, i wrote the following, "We've budgeted about $135,000, and i plan on doing much of the work myself. SO...Do we think we'll be able to get all of our money back out one day? We're not sure, but we plan on starting a family and staying put for a while. My wife and I have had a chance to check out some of the local shops and restaurants, including a Valentines day date at GATE 403, and more and more, we are falling in love with our new neighbourhood. So at the end of the day, it's not just about an investment in real estate, it's about an investment in lifestyle and from that perspective we feel we've done alright."

It's strange looking back and reading that today and thinking of all the changes that have happened over the years, and even more strange to share the news that this will be the second last post that i do on the Roncesvalles Victorian Reno Diary blog.  The reason is that we've sold our home.

It was a difficult decision that we struggled a lot with. Just two short years ago Heather and i were care-free DINKS and our pretty little Victorian in Roncy was all the house we ever needed.  Since then we've added two beautiful children with all their "stuff", a live-in care-giver and more frequent overnight guests.  So as much as it pains us to move from the home we've worked so hard to make "ours", and our street with many friends, we realized that we need more space.  I've been asked a lot lately how i can move after having invested so much time and hard work on the house?  But i learned something very important, the week our house was on the market.  To keep it looking it's best, Heather and the kids spent the week at the cottage and i stayed in town, so i could be around to tidy and turn the lights and A/C on and off each day.  As i would come home each night after the last viewing was done, i realized our house never looked as beautiful as it did then, but without Heather and the kids there to greet me it didn't really feel like home anymore.  I realized that no matter how renovated, beautiful or immaculate my house is, home is wherever Heather and the kids are.

We still love the neighbourhood, so we aren't moving very far (about 3 blocks).  Still close enough to walk to all our favourite shops and restaurants on Roncesvalles, and even closer to High Park, where we've been spending more and more time.  So as some of you may have guessed, there will be a new blog once we get settled in, in fact i've even picked up a new nick name - bye bye Roncy Vic, hello High Park Eddie!  In the new blog i hope to share some more projects hopefully enlightened by some of the wisdom gained from this home, from life with children and from having a tighter budget.  Hope to continue hearing from many of the readers that have made writing this blog so enjoyable.  The link to the new blog, a house tour and a final farewell will be posted next.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Backyard Makeover Reveal

In the last post i revealed the finale to the Cheap and Cheerful Garage makeover, so today i thought i'd share the finale of the rest of the backyard makeover.  Last fall i showed the rebuilt deck and rebuilt covered basement walkout in the backyard.  Like the garage makeover, Gerry our painter ((416) 727-9089) did a great job of staining it all.  And like the garage, the difference that stain can make is insane.  Pressure-treated wood has lots of benefits, but in my opinion looks have never been one of them.  Once stained with a solid stain, not only does the look become much richer and beautiful, it also helps to preserve the wood by repelling water, mildew and UV.

Here are the afters:

And here's what it looked before:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

From Gar-ughh to Garrrrrr-geous!

Continuing where i left off last fall, we hired Gerry the painter ( (416) 727-9089) to work his magic on the back deck, the structure over the basement walk-out and the garage.  Ordinarily i would have done this myself, but have been a bit pre-occupied with other things.  We used Benjamin Moore's Arborcoat Solid Stain in Chelsea Grey with Cliffside Grey accents.  Arborcoat goes on really well, looks fantastic and lasts a long time, it has UV ptoection, mildew inhibitors, and repels water.  I managed to hunt down an old Victorian door on Kijiji.  We painted it black and installed it.  Then i ripped down pressure treated fence boards and stained them in Cliffside Grey and attached them as casing around the windows and door.  The results are unbelievable, in my opinion.  I kind of hate that i didn't do this much sooner.

Here is an after:

Let's not forget the before:

Total Cost (not including Gerry's services):
$60 Windows from Kijiji
$100 Door from Kijiji
$140 two gallons of Arborcoat Stain (enough to do much more than the garage)
$40 Door handle set
$30 Misc lumber and screws

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Back With Another IKEA Hack

We used to have a walk-in closet attached to our master bedroom, which seemed a bit of a waste of space in our little house.  So we decided it would make more sense to turn it into an office instead, that is until we found out we were pregnant again.  Then it made more sense to turn it into another nursery (which i'll cover in future posts).  So out with the walk-in closet, in with the new nursery.  This meant we needed a new place to store our clothes.  Since we liked how the built in IKEA PAX closets worked out in Sidney's room, we thought we'd do it again, but with a few added features.  You can click here to  see my feature on IKEA Hackers.

We started with two IKEA PAX units, which standing on their own aren't very attractive.

So i decided i'd fill in the rest of the wall with custom home-made cabinets on either side, but because i didn't want the built-ins to look too monolithic, i decided to set back the side cabinets, creating a "breakfront" appearance.

I started by building a nice level platform upon which the PAX and side cabinets would stand upon:

Then i cut and painted all the pieces for the 2 side cabinets:

A little routing, gluing and nailing and i had my side cabinets, using the same method as when i built my vanity):

Then i put them in place and attached all four cabinets together and secured them to the wall and the platform (i know it's still not attractive yet):

Then i added the face frames on the two side cabinets, the gables on the exposed PAX sides and the frieze and toe kicks:

In the bottom half of each side cabinet i drilled holes to allow for adjustable shelving, the upper half will remain open shelving for books and display:

Then it came time to actually build-in the built-ins, by wrapping the baseboard and crown moulding over top of the frieze and the toe kicks.  I also had custom doors built for the PAX and the bottom half of the side cabinets:
After priming, painting and installing door handles, i now present the pretty stuff - Voila:

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Big Reveal!

It's been a little while since i've done a big reveal.  Over the past 4 and a half years,  i've done reveals on my kitchen, on bathrooms, the nursery, my basement and many other DIY's.   That's a long time and a lot of projects, so it's high time for my next reveal - me!  Today I will be featured on the Steven and Chris show.  As you know, the crew from the Steven and Chris show were over at the Roncy Vic household a few weeks ago, filming some of my favourite projects.  Now you'll finally be able to put a face to my name (which by the way is actually Kyle, not Roncy Vic).

So for those of you who missed it, here's the link to my Q&A as well as the segment:

Click Here to Watch

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wanna be on HGTV Canada?

May The Best House Win is the ultimate lifestyle game show that sees the owners of some of Canada's most interesting and unusual homes compete against each other in a bid to win a cash prize.

In every episode, four homeowners go head-to-head preparing their properties to impress their fellow competitors in the categories of creativity, ingenuity, hospitality and comfort. After snooping around one another's homes, they candidly review and secretly rate the overall experience out of 10.

The competitor with the greatest score takes home best house bragging rights along with the $1000 prize. It's the ultimate house-proud homeowner showcase showdown where owning the most impressive house wins!

Interested? Email for details!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Toronto Real Estate Predictions

Over on the right there is a tag cloud. One of those tags is Real Estate. And frankly if you click on it, there isn't much to see there. I haven't really talked much about real estate on this blog, but one of my hobbies obsessions is following the Toronto real estate market. So today i thought i'd take a break from talking about renovations to talk about Toronto real estate. And since it is the beginning of the year, i'll go ahead and make some predictions, so that i can either face palm or pat myself on the back at the end of the year. Let me just say i more than welcome comments from anyone who agrees, disagrees, or has predictions of their own. So here goes:

Prediction 1:

Lots of people think there's a RE bubble in this city and that there is a large price correction coming our way. I personally disagree, i think the market in Toronto is pretty healthy (see stats below) and demand for housing is being fuelled by a growing population of high income earners looking to live closer to the core. It's been noted in many studies that Toronto is becoming a city divided, with a large and growing population of low income earners and a large and growing population of high income earners. The middle income earners are leaving the city for the 905's. When one looks at the average income over time, there isn't much movement, because the increase in low income earners and increase in high income earners tend to wash each other out. When it comes to real estate prices however, there isn't any washing effect, because low income earners tend to rent and have little to no impact on real estate values. Whereas high earners tend to buy, so an increase in this segment of the population drives house price increases.

As income disparity widens, real estate prices rise, even as average income remains static. Over time real estate which was once affordable to the middle class eventually becomes out of reach for average income earners, which makes many of them believe there is a bubble. Rather than a bubble, in my opinion it more closely resembles the evolution most large cities go through. In fact compared to most large cities, Toronto real estate is still relatively inexpensive. Seriously, take a look at how much a 3 storey townhouse in New York cost. Over the course of 2012 i think prices in the core will continue to rise, albeit at a slower pace. And over the next decade i think we'll start to see a Manhattanization of Toronto's core.

Some stats to consider:
- Canadians with mortgages have significant equity in their home, averaging about 50 percent of the home's value - Canadian Banker's Association

- Canadian mortgage delinquencies stand at 0.47%, about the same level as when the rising prices started in 2000. This stands in stark contrast to US mortgage delinquencies which peaked at 6.89% in 2009
- Stats from a large mortgage broker (CanEquity), show that in Toronto: Average age of applicant = 37, Average household income = 125K, Average Home Loan = 262K. Certainly not red flag territory by any means.

Prediction 2:

Anyone who cruises the MLS listings enough will learn to recognize flipper houses right away. They are often unfurnished in their photos, and typically feature brand new, (but mediocre) everything. They usually have dark hardwood floors, beige painted walls, hollow-core doors, and reek of Home Depot sales items. And if those things weren't obvious enough, the exteriors usually sport, some combination of stucco, brick and mock stone. These days i see fewer and fewer of them on the market. I think the combination of the Toronto Land Transfer Tax and the increase cost to purchase the "original" homes has really put a damper on flippers' ability to find their next profitable project. Also i think that buyers are becoming increasingly design savvy and more and more are looking for higher end finishes, not just new. While other buyers are now more willing then ever before to buy unrenovated homes and make them their own. So my prediction in 2012, is that flipping in Toronto is dead.

Prediction 3:

Each year Toronto Life publishes it's "Where to Buy Now" list. I figured i'd come up with my own, focusing more on the core. I base my prediction on the housing stock, changing demographics, proximity to shopping, downtown and transportation. So here are 2 neighbourhoods that i think will see the next wave of gentrification.

1. The triangle formed by Dundas Street West , College Street and Ossington Ave: I believe this area has all the classic pre-gentrification ingredients. Many of the homes are occupied by older first generation immigrants who have raised their families in solid brick character homes over the last few decades and are now looking to downsize. The area is well served by public transportation, and is a short commute to downtown or to the Gardiner Expressway. Houses tend to be Victorian and Edwardian in style and date from the 1880's to 1940's. The homes tend to be well cared for, but not updated. Streets also tend to have mature trees and the retail strips along Dundas Street West and College Street, are being touted as the "Next Frontier". New low rise boutique condos and minimalist townhouses are starting to infiltrate this area. Along streets like Coolmine Rd, Lakeview Ave, and Churchill Ave, enormous three storey Victorians can still be purchased for under $800K, similar houses one block south in Beaconsfield Village or one block north in Dufferin Grove, would command prices over $1 million.

A row of large Victorians on Coolmine Ave, just begging for a make-over:

View Larger Map

A row of large Victorians on Churchill Ave, if these were in Roncy there would be permits in the window and a dumpster in front of every second house:

View Larger Map

A row of Victorians on Lakeview Ave, can't you just imagine the potential?:

2. Chinatown/Baldwin Village: Many of the homes in this neighbourhood were converted to apartments decades ago, to take advantage of the rents that one can charge when you're walking distance to everything downtown has to offer. The homes are typically older Victorian row houses and unfortunately have not always been well maintained giving the neighbourhood a gritty feel. I think this is a big reason why this neighbourhood has resisted gentrification thus far, in spite of it's incredible location. But with the condofication and yuppification steadily moving north along Spadina, i think Chinatown's gritty days are numbered.

Houses along Baldwin Ave, mere spitting distance from the AGO and University of Toronto. If you squint hard and imagine the chain link fences and weedy gardens are gone, you can see how beautiful this street scape could be:
View Larger Map

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm Semi-Retiring

It was fun moonlighting as a designer, but my project has ended so it's time for me to retire my paint swatches and go back to designing just for myself.  As promised i wanted to show the finish photos and do a round up of products and costs.

Here's a breakdown of costs  (amounts include HST) and sources:
4 x 16 ceramic shower tiles $260 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
Shower floor 1 x 1 carrara marble mosaic tiles $163 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
12 x 24 carrara marble floor tiles $289 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
Vanity/Counter/Sink $720 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
Rubi Rondo Tub/Shower System $509 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
Rubi Lavatory Faucet $170 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
2 - Chrome Tile Edges $20 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
3 - 6' Marble jambs $170 from Downtown Lumber (Ossington location)
2 - Albion Sconces $305 from Restoration Hardware
Benjamin Moore Aura Kitchen and Bathroom paint in "Shaker Grey" $90 from High Park Wallpaper & Paint
Mirror/medicine cabinet can't remember the cost (originally purchased for my own bathroom, but never used) from Roman Bath Center

Total for the items i purchased: $2,696

The contractor included in his quote all other materials including:
All wiring, boxes and switches
All building materials (mortar, grout, thin-set, membrane, lumber, screws, insulation, dry wall, cement board, vapour barrier, etc)
New window
Glass Wall
New Door