Langley Advance reporter Heather Colpitts is renovating her kitchen

Renos: Like camping in your own house

One Langley Advance reporter’s adventures in renovations.

Did you ever visit a place and think, I would like my house to be like this?

That’s how I was as a school kid going through the houses at a heritage park.

Forget sleek ultra modern contemporary, mid-century modern, or French country.

For me, it’s always been Art Deco that caused my heart to skip a beat.

So when I purchased my first home after moving to Langley, I knew I wanted to redo my 1991-era abode with a period look.

There’s no lack of glossy coverage for six -figure renos. In contrast here’s my average Jane perspective.

My plan was to get cracking on renos as soon as I bought.

But life has a way of interfering with the best laid plans, so renos I had hoped to start in 2010 didn’t get underway until 2017.


CAPTION: A 1991-era kitchen has been gutted to be given a vintage look. (Heather Colpitts photo/Langley Advance)

The contractor started renos – on the kitchen/family room and main bathroom above it – in early March. But, my work started long before that.

There’s no lack of research needed for any project.

Cupboard styles, flooring. Pot lights or another kind of ceiling fixture? Will any existing items, such as sinks or appliances, be reused? Government requirements? Government and utility eco-rebates?

What supplies does the contractor buy and what do I buy?

That was all set out in a project document.

How will waste be handled?

Colour schemes, accessories, ceiling finishes. Suppliers, estimates, incidentals.


CAPTION: Every project involves discovering what people have previously done to that space, including overstapling the flooring. (Heather Colpitts photo/Langley Advance)

If items have to be ordered, what is the lead time for delivery? I purchased an over-the-range microwave because Lowes Abbotsford said it had two in the warehouse. Then, I received a phone call after the planned pick-up date to say it would be two weeks late.

I can’t find the same item for as good a price, so I’m stuck with the delay.

What about planning for future needs? Do extra cables need to be run for high-tech toys?

What about safety items? While researching tub storage, I came across bathtub grab bars that have shelves on them for shampoo or other bath needs.Gotta like killing two birds with one stone.

There were other products I came across that fall under the “nice, but too pricey” category.

Any project is a balance of wishes, walls, and wallet. A big spa bathroom would be lovely, but I’m not prepared to make the adjacent spare room much smaller to accommodate one.

Somewhere I heard about glass floor tiles and decided that would be nice. The retail price about six years ago was in the $50 to $60 range per square foot. That would be about $2,000 just for bathroom tile.

I thought that scuttled the issue until I found them for $200. That I can manage.

Then I got the bright idea of using something other than grout between the tiles, something clear.

When I researched this about five years ago, there was a clear grout product sold in Italy. That’s all I could find. Another idea scuttled, so I thought.

But I searched recently and found Stainmaster has come out with clear epoxy grout.

The downside – it’s not sold in Canada.

So in February I got to explain to Canadian and American border guards alike how this product was not available here and I had to special order it and pick it up in Bellingham. I suspect I have weird notes on my files with both governments now.


CAPTION: The main bathroom right above the kitchen has been gutted. (Heather Colpitts photo/Langley Advance)

Inside walls

Picking out the visible stuff can be fun, but that’s only half the renos. I was more concerned with the stuff I couldn’t see.

I was able to book some time off work to be home for most of the renovations.

Sure, I had a home inspection and that pointed out several things that have subsequently been corrected since I purchased. But there’s always things that cannot be seen until drywall is removed.

So the two key areas – the kitchen and main bathroom – are being redone and I’m basically camping in my house. I joke at least I get my recliner, my powder room, and most importantly, my own bed.

• Watch for my next instalment in the April Langley Advance Home & Garden section.

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