When we bought the duplex, there was no backyard. Rather, there was a super-sized concrete garage that was teetering on the edge of collapse. It took up the entire (potential) yard. It was unnecessarily huge. It was cracked and scary. It was covering up a lot of land that I wanted my dogs to enjoy.

We had it torn down. Pictures of the destruction will come soon, but for now I’m thrilled that our new shed finally came.

Now, I’m sure y’all would be smarter about this than we were, but here’s my advice anyway: If you buy a house with no closets, no basement, and you tear down the only real form of storage… Don’t put off ordering a replacement shed. Because that three weeks before delivery? That three weeks of falling over your weight set / eating breakfast on your hedge trimmer / using your tool box as seating? It will seem very long indeed.

I’m happy to report that there is no longer a set of barbels next to my bed, and that the circular saw is no longer resting in my sock drawer.

Welcome home, shed.

We got this baby at Pre-Fab Garden Sheds in Carp. They are lovely folks, but don’t forget about that wait time…. Lest you be stuck sharing your bathroom with your extra topsoil.

Not that I know anything about that.


Upstairs Bathroom

If I start apologizing for the drastic length between posts, I’ll never stop… So I’ll just skip that step if it’s okay with you.

I wanted to show off one of the more dramatic renovations we’ve seen here at the duplex – the washroom belonging to the upstairs tenants.

May I show you how it looked when we did the inspection?

I know.

It’s possible that I was too horrified to take detailed pictures of it, but I can assure you of a few things:

The tile has rotted away. Rather, it had been rotting away for years, but the owners still showered in there daily, ensuring maximum damage behind the wall.

The floor is old, old laminate.

Yes, that is a giant fluorescent light on the ceiling.

The walls are indeed dusty pink, along with the rest of the upstairs apartment.

The tub is also pink.

So, as you can imagine, we had a lot of work to do, and only two weeks to do it before our tenants moved in.

Because of the time constraints, we hired contractors to replace the tile and tub. I took a tiling course back in January, and I would have loved to try it out myself, but two weeks? Not when I also had to paint and floor the entire house.

I left those contractors in there for one day. ONE DAY. And look what they made me.

We couldn’t afford to replace the floor, sadly, but we did paint the room and replace the light with something pretty.

The tenants were thrilled, since they had only seen the original bathroom and had to trust my assurances that I’d fix it up for them.

I’ve gotta say, as much as I would like to be able to do this job myself one day (like the amazing gals at homo-ners), having a team of pros take over can be lovely every now and then.

Settling In

Believe it or not, I’m one of those people that likes to blog every day. The fact that I have such giant gaps between posts is an indication of how nutty things are!

A quick update for you…

We are moved into the duplex! The move wasn’t exactly seamless, but at least the bed is set up. Boxes. Are. Everywhere.

We had some problems with scheduling and timing. Isn’t that how it always goes? The renovations took about a week longer than we planned, which meant we couldn’t finish the floors in time for the movers. It’s been a real challenge to unpack while navigating sections of unfinished flooring and random buckets of primer laying around, let me tell ya.

Luckily, this insane experience has given me a ton of blogging material. Maybe one day I’ll find the cable for my digital camera so I can upload the pictures. Booo.

In the meantime, here are some shots of the process (uploaded pre-move, obvs). I promise things will get normal around here soon!

We replaced this sewage pipe because we noticed a crack. Who knew it was this bad!

In the process of getting our energy audit! Neat machine.

Installing this door was a nightmare. Old houses = nothing ever fits.

Saying bye to the old floors.

From this:

To this:

Oh yes. Thank you Ikea; you have served me well.

I finally have an evening off to update you on our progress! The tenants moved in a couple of days ago, so the pressure has lessened a bit. Now we start working on our unit… But that’s a story for another day.

I’d like to show you one of the more drastic transformations here at the Darling Duplex: the master bedroom.

It used to look like this:

Now it looks like this:

Granted, there’s no furniture in there yet, but you get the picture. Let me show you how we did it….

The first thing to go was the wallpaper. I bought some wallpaper remover, a little spiky thing to score the walls, and slaved away until that stuff was gone. It was exhausting work… The wallpaper was stubborn and rubbery. But dudes, it looked so much better afterwards! All we had to do then was slap some paint on.

Next we started tearing up the carpet. It came up easily, but the foam pad underneath had long since bonded to the floor, so that was a bit trickier.

Then we started putting down the new floor. We used engineered wood floors by a local company called Kultur. We chose the graphite maple – we were trying to decide between this and something even darker, but graphite won out.

A few words about engineered wood floors. We chose to go this route for a few reasons:

1. We were lucky enough to have a local company who manufactures the product themselves. This meant we could be in close contact with the salespeople, and we could go to the showroom to see the wood on display.

2. Engineered wood floors are an eco-friendly option for people who still want quality wood flooring. The top layer is hardwood, but the bottom layer is recycled wood bits formed into an interlocking pattern.

3. The pieces click together like a puzzle, so there is no glue and no nailing. This meant we could install it ourselves without much difficulty. I’ll show you the pictures before I tell you how that *actually* played out…

First step… Putting down the underlay! We chose one called “The Silencer” because we’ll be living on the main level, underneath these floors.

Roll it out and tape it together. Very simple.

Then we started clicking the pieces together. The closet was a challenge, but we managed the funny angles by cutting away wood with a flexible hand saw. This let us slip the flooring underneath instead of cutting awkward shapes in the planks.

Click, click, click.

For the terrifying wall sconces…. I couldn’t find anything attractive and affordable to replace them with, so I whipped out a can of spray paint instead.

There is something deeply satisfying about black spray paint.

I think it makes everything look better. But do yourself a favour and wear gloves and a mask…. You don’t want to inhale it, and it’s also a pain to wash off your hands.

So how did the click flooring work in real life? Let me put it this way.

These floors work like a dream on a perfectly flat surface. It’s like an easy puzzle.

In old homes, however, perfectly flat surfaces are few and far between. What I *should* have done is laid a subfloor, and in some particularly bad spots, used a levelling compound. I didn’t have time for that, so I went ahead without. BIG MISTAKE. Click floors do not click if the surface isn’t flat. That means that the floor simply doesn’t hold together. In a couple of rooms, we actually had to nail down these planks like they were hardwood. It was extremely stressful, but avoidable if you have time to do the prep work.

I’ll also mention quickly that the reason we had so little time is that the floors came very late. Kultur makes a great product, but I didn’t get a good impression of their organizational prowess, to say the least. It was a battle to get the flooring when we did, which was only a few days before the tenants were supposed to move in. Headache inducing!

Otherwise, I would use the product again, providing I am able to prep the surface before the madness begins.

Hope you enjoyed the walkthrough… More soon!

I’m not totally sure how I thought I’d be able to update you all in real time as I renovated the duplex on a tight deadline, but I must have been nuts! Since we took over the house on May 19th, it’s been absolutely non stop. Good thing I can check my e-mail via cell phone, or I wouldn’t have been connected at all.

I suppose it doesn’t help that I’ve been covered in a thin layer of primer, spray paint and dust for several days now. It makes sitting in front of the computer especially grimy.

The tenants move in next week. Not right on the 1st, but shortly after. That means we’ve had about two weeks to tear up their floors, fix and paint their walls, caulk the windows, have an energy audit done, install a furnace and hot water tank, cut ductwork into their living room, lay wood floors where the carpet used to be, rewire parts of the apartment, and replace their doors and locks. Oh! And replace their bath and tile.

Two weeks. Now whittled down to about six days.

We’re done with the painting, caulking, patching and ripping up. We installed one door (it shuts and locks, but it’s, ummm, problematic) and we’re having a contractor install the second one (see previous problems). The bath and tile are being done as I type.

The next giant step is putting down the wood floors, which are arriving late. We don’t get them until Friday afternoon, and then it’s a mad race the get them on the floor in time for the tenants to move in.

The furnace, hot water tank and ductwork are being taken care of on Monday.

Anyway. That’s a lot of words. Let’s get to the pictures! I’ll start with a wall we knocked down the night we took possession. No messing around when you’ve got a limited amount of time to work with.

We knew this wall was covering up an old doorway, complete with door. Don’t get me started on WHY the previous owner blocked it up, but we knew we wanted it to be functional again.

Our blank slate:


That would be my guy hoping the wall would come down with a quick tug from the crow bar. No such luck.


Mark tries to cut it away. No such luck. We’re starting to wonder what’s under there.


Andi demonstrates the importance of proper safety gear.


There is some smashing. Moderate success!


A little more comes down…


Aaaand, it’s a big wooden door, cut into three pieces, put ON TOP of the actual door. WTF.


A little more smashing, and there’s the real door peeking out. They even left the blinds on!


Weird, no?


Et voila. Not bad for an hour or so of work. Wait until you see what we’re going to do with this space! I’ll give you a hint: SOUNDPROOF CLOSET. Got to record music somewhere, folks.



1. We got the house last night

2. We tore up old floors and walls until 1am

3. We are completely, completely filthy… And we still have a month of this to go

But obviously we are beaming. Homeowners! Woot!

More details to come on the cool stuff we found under the floors. Until then, here are some random pictures of the house!

Morty checking out the view from the upstairs bedroom


He likes it!


Not so keen on the old tub. Don't worry little dude... We're tearing it out.


Me. 1am. Surrounded by debris.