Monday, July 25, 2011

DIY Living room renovation

One of the most significant renovations in our home was our living room which was gutted and rebuilt. Because we spend so much time lounging, relaxing, and hosting in this room, it was a priority on our renovation list. It had been partly renovated in the 1970s and 1980s but was in desperate need of style coordination. The room is located in our walk-down basement but it is large (21 x 16 feet) with highish ceilings (9 feet). It felt had lots of potential!

Let me show you what it originally looked like when we bought our home (these images are from when the previous owner lived in the home):

The fireplace and brick wall were added in the early 1980s. The fireplace is clad in unfinished Carrara marble. It is actually really beautiful but it didn't match the brick walls and gray faux wood wall paneling.

I am normally a fan of brick walls but this brick arch was much to short and just made the room feel dark. The room off of the living room was a second kitchen (yes, this was a two kitchen home!) We quickly got rid of the kitchen but this is another post waiting to be written.

 The walls were clad in gray faux wood paneling with strips of stainless steel. Also, the floor was gray ceramic. The floor was passable but we didn't have any extra tiles to mend the spots where we extended the opening into the old kitchen and where we removed the bar (image below). Notice all the large boxes along the ceiling. These held the water heater pipes but since the house was converted to electric heaters these could also be removed.

Tucked away in the corner of the living room was a bar. The brick covering the bar was different from the brick on the walls and the brick behind the bar was also another type of brick. The arches, I think, were meant to mimic the arched entrance into the kitchen but again it just closed off the space. Also, notice the flowery tile along the bottom half of the wall behind the bar. There was much to much going on in this room!
A closer look at the bar.

We began the renovation in January- not an ideal time to start renovating in Montreal because of the cold winters but we couldn't wait to get this done. With a dumpster down my driveway the demolition began.

The first thing to go was the brick wall. Heavy but easy to demo. Once the top row of bricks was removed the others came apart with little effort.
Then the bar was removed and we found a piece of the original wood floor. I wish they hadn't tiled- it would have saved us a lot of cash!

We then removed the walls and I took a little break to chat on the phone:)

Then the stucco ceiling came down. Because we removed the boxes along the ceiling and also the arches above the bar, we would have had a difficult time matching the stucco.

Tony hard at work!

Me hard at work!

And finally, the floors were jack-hammered. The tile floor was laid on a 4-5 inch layer of sand coat. We removed everything in order to build a wooden sub-floor on which to install wood floors.  
A wheel-barrel and buckets are a must for demolition. Really helpful in moving stuff to the dumpster.

It took about two days to demo the room and at the end I was very happy that all the ugly was gone!

Tomorrow's post will chronicle the rebuilding and the selection of materials. 

Check back soon:)



  1. I can't wait to see the finished version with the 'Nancy' touch :)

    Lena xoxo

  2. What a cool space. 9' ceilings in a basement is really good right? We don't have basements in San Diego due to earthquakes. Basements here are called bomb shelters left over from the 50's. Can't wait to see the finished room!

  3. You guys have been so hardworking! I can't wait to see the finished product! I am sure it will look beautiful in the end. This is so exciting!

    By the way, I just post a giveaway on my blog, so don't forget to enter!​/07/giveaway-samantha-kay-jewe​lry.html


  4. Wow Nancy a lot of work and you are very courageous to take all of this on!!

    I have no doubt it will be worth it!! Cannot wait to see!


    Art by Karena

    Exciting New $150 Giveaway from Dr Perricone! Come and Enter!

  5. Wow, how exciting.
    When I was a child/teenager my parents would move fairly regularly and buy houses that 'needed a little work'. We did a lot of renovating. I love the part where you rip out all the old and then start from scratch. It feels like your cleansing the house and preparing to make it a home.
    I'm looking forward to your new space!


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