Last time in the series, we read about how Jessica and Emma created a space that would work for them, both alone and with guests. This week, they move forward, with the help of a designer.
After consulting with a designer at Jostar Interiors we decided to have them provide us with drawings and design options for our space. It wasn’t cheap, but what they came back with was infinitely better than what we had originally thought up. For our layout they came up with this:
Entire unit layout:
Jostar came up with several ideas, our favourite being the above U-shaped kitchen with a breakfast bar. This solved the issue of Emma and I bumping into each other while working around the kitchen. It also solved the issue of having a space to eat while not blocking the flow from the kitchen into the living room/bedroom, which would have caused issues due to the concrete pillar between the kitchen and hallway.
We decided to continue working with them so they would help us manage the renovation project. They helped us find some great fixtures and for the bathroom and they helped us decide on a tile that could be used as both our floor for our entire place and also in our shower. Having a consistent floor throughout our entire space will help it feel more spacious, and was something that we had wanted but weren’t sure we’d be able to find.
Once we had the layout mostly worked out we went ahead and had meetings with a contractor that Jostar had found to explain the work that we wanted to do, explore our options, and get an idea of what it would cost. Jostar worked with the contractor, contacted all of the various product distributors and scheduled any meetings with electricians and HVAC specialists. Sure, this is all stuff we could have done but to be honest it’s all stuff we HATE doing and it would have taken us forever. We’d basically tell them, “Hey, these are the times we are available to meet” and they’d schedule any meetings for those times. So, yes, we do have to pay a project management fee but we think it was definitely worth it. And I’m saying that before we have even started our renovations. The planning stage was definitely the most stressful part of this whole process and our designer made it infinitely easier by providing suggestions and ideas that we didn’t even know were possible. Our final plan actually ended up much closer to what our original ideas had been before we had started to compromise due to what we thought would be too costly. Don’t get me wrong, this renovation is hella’ costly but their suggestions made us reevaluate the possibilities within our space.
Once we had Jostar on board and were well into serious planning mode, we immediately encountered a massive roadblock. If you live in an older condo unit, it’s likely that you may also have a recirculating range hood vent above your stove. If so, you may also share our frustration at how ineffective they are at removing grease and food odours from your kitchen. As a result, a layer of greasy film accumulates on every surface and in order to keep anything clean you end up having to scrub the ever-loving crap out of it, often. We currently have two holes in our unit that vent to the outside of the building – one for laundry and one for bathroom ventilation. We had hoped that we could possibly drill a third one to accommodate a proper, vented range hood. However, part of living in a condominium building means having to get your renovation plans approved by the condo board, and when we proposed this idea to the condo board, they unsurprisingly said no. Requests for any changes to the exterior of a condo building are almost always met with refusal, but we thought we’d try anyway. Their response put us in a difficult position, as this was what Emma considered a deal-breaker. She was unwilling to go through with a huge, costly renovation and invest in new items and surfaces only have them become greasy and sticky due to continued terrible ventilation above our stove. What could we do? This is one solution I get to take full credit for! I looked into the possibility of replacing our vented dryer with a condenser dryer that wouldn’t need to be vented (all of the moisture that is extracted from your laundry while it’s being dried is collected in a container that can be emptied after the cycle is complete). This would allow us to use the already existing laundry vent hole for a vented range hood, instead. Plus, our current washer and dryer combo unit was something we had hoped to eventually replace anyway, as it is in a silly location, is terribly noisy and the venting often leaks water on to our floor. Condensation dryers have been known to have some problems such as longer drying times and an inability to dry large loads, but they have come a long way in recent years, and the Miele unit we ultimately opted for has been highly recommended. With the venting issue out of the way, we were now ready to begin the renos!
The next step of the process is preparing their condo for renovations, and although likely stressful, it’s very exciting!