My husband and I have spent the last few years of our lives settling into married life, travelling to far off lands and renovating our 100+ year old home in a historic neighbourhood in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada known as London Road (almost voted greatest place in Canada – 2012). The renovation didn’t go as planned, in fact it went completely opposite to plan and left us homeless for about 5 months. We couch-surfed, lived in our boler Garrreh and stayed with my sister and parents at various intervals.
It was an incredibly hard lesson for us (not just the obvious stuff like be careful who you hire, but more life lesson stuff like where our priorities are, how well my husband and I worked together during this tumultuous time and how far we’ve come from the place of anger, resentment and hatred we were in at the time). We all experience these pivotal moments during our lifetimes that alter who we are and shift everything in our lives as we know it – this renovation experience was one of those moments for me (and Jeddy). Thankfully, the idea of losing everything and having nothing shattered our core and subsequently brought us closer together. We’ve held each other as we cried, laughed in disbelief and worked to forgive the other people involved so that we may move forward free of the burden of anger.
After all, every minute of anger is sixty seconds of peace lost.
Thankfully, we’re self-employed entrepreneurs working in the online marketing and design realm. We found solace in knowing that we are in control of our fate (and our income) and got hard to work rebuilding our lives from the foundation up. For the first few months we were able to move back into our house, we accessed the upstairs apartment by makeshift ‘ladder stairs’ – carrying our groceries (and dogs) up on our backs every day up into our apartment while the main floor was still completely unfinished. It sounds super crazy now that I look back at it – but when you find yourself in a situation of such disbelief, you somehow manage to continue taking baby (ladder) steps in the right direction until, one day, you’ve come full circle. Now that I look back, I’m in awe of some of the [poor] decisions we made, and yet so proud of how we’ve come as far as we have. It really is remarkable.
Below are some photos of our renovations. We didn’t take a lot during the hardest point as we didn’t want any more reminders of what was happening. It’s hard enough just thinking about it. BUT – there are some of the ‘after’ shots. We opened up all the interior walls to create one giant space. We replaced all the 100+ year old windows with brand new 4.5′ x 9′ beauties… and installed a ‘concrete-like’ flooring for an industrial look. The exposed post and beams in the photos will eventually be covered in fir, however this is low on the priority list. In addition to all of the cosmetic work, we also replaced the outdated boiler system with new furnace, hot water tank and central air. The entire main floor has been re-wired and re-plumbed and re-insulated. It was a HUGE job… but it’s done.
Nearly three years after we made the fateful decision to renovate the inside of our home, we have been able to emotionally and financially mend enough to address the outside – namely a leaky roof/deck and outdated vinyl siding.
Roof & Exterior Project: Earlier this year we finally took the leap and, through the fate of some extremely high winds (typical of Southern Alberta) and a resulting wind damage insurance claim, were able to redo our home’s roof. There were at least 5 layers on our roof with old hand-bent tin ridge capping (see pic below). It was pretty remarkable that our house, which is well over 100 years old, had NEVER had the roof stripped and re-done the proper way. It was anticipated that the process would take approximately 5-7 working days, but the roofers (who were great) ended up being on-site nearly 3 weeks. There was a lot more manual debris removal than they could have anticipated, and the various valleys and hips in our old-style roof meant plenty of cutting and slow-going… but the end result is well worth it.
We were blessed with sunshine and clear skies during the re-roof project. There were a few cool days where the temp hovered around freezing, but all in all it was gorgeous weather for February on the Prairies in Canada.
Operation Backyard [Birthday] Bliss: In April/May 2016 we began working away in our backyard. Having my Birthday in early May, Jeddy asked me what I wanted for a gift. I told him I want a little backyard oasis. Somewhere we can sit back, relax and enjoy the few warm months we had upon us. So, through a series of fateful gestures and events, we ended up being graciously given artificial turn (lawn) which nearly covered our whole backyard dirt patch. You see, we haven’t been able to successfully grow grass in our backyard since we moved into this house. We have these lovely large, old trees that fill in and shade us during the summer – which subsequently means no sunshine or rain reaches the ground during prime growing season.
I spent two evenings staining our deck from pressure-treated wood (bleh) to ‘Oxford Brown’. I absolutely LOVE it. It’s dark, rich and creates beautiful contrast with the new lawn and greenery/leaves that are still filling in. We also picked up some commercial-grade outdoor string lights from costco – a total steal at $59 per box (which gives you 48′ of illuminated bliss) and completely transforms the look and feel of the space. Our yard is tiny (like, 20′ x 20′ including deck, lawn, garden with an extra 6′ x 6′ pad for the hot tub – which I stained to match the deck).