Mike & Sandie's Foyer Renovation: Real-life Lessons from a Real-life Renovation

Renovation Diary

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Name: Mike and Sandie
Type of Project: Foyer renovation
Location: Saskatoon; Saskatchewan, Canada
Type of building: 2 1/2 story single-family home, built in 1919

The Renovation Diaries are a collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

We've been following along with every step of Mike and Sandie's foyer renovation, and this week we treated you to the big reveal of the finished space and a behind-the-scenes look at the budget. Now, we're checking in with them one last time to hear about the renovating lessons they learned along the way.

Now that the project is over and you're looking back on it, what are the most important lessons you learned through the remodeling process?

1. Knowing things don’t go as planned, and being a o k with it. Even though we eliminated the funky wallpaper, painted the stairs, and made other necessary changes to our original ideas, the process of allowing the space to unfold as it needed to without struggling to fit it into a preconceived notion yielded fun and surprising results we’re delighted with. The blue door, unbridled style mixing, a solid neutral base, the sentimentalism of the Singer, the luxe marble tiles; are all happy moments for us we may not have discovered without remaining flexible through the journey. That being said, we also feel it was imperative to have a strong mandate for maintaining the integrity of the house’s bones without compromise.

2. By spending our $ on the architectural elements (wainscoting/closet/floors/stairs/structure — the work that sticks to the house) we increased equity value as well as maintaining the health of our home. Everything else is easily changeable (paint, furniture) with the style of the times/season/mood/inhabitants.

3. DIYing most of the work was exhausting, but we find pushing our limits exhilarating. If there was something we couldn’t have handled, we would have employed a professional. Also, if we had squabbled much while working together (which didn’t happen too much, right honey?), trades would have been working on the scene. Taking frequent walks in the fresh air and getting perspective from being out of the house looking in were necessary rituals for us to connect with each other apart from the project. Our quality of life needed to be improved all-round by the renovation (during it as well as after completion) or it wouldn’t be worth it.

4. Cleaning up the workarea as we go is one of our secret weapons to boost the renovation wahoo juice. Taking time to clean up at the end of the day makes it easier to pick it up later... almost seducing us to get back on the job. That tidy looking all ready-to-get-messy area over there... mrrrrrrrowr! Also, reviewing the visuals (floorplans, sketches, pins, etc.) before getting started for the day. This would be a quick and encouraging refresh to our morale and a reminder of where we were headed (especially in a project like this where we weren’t entirely sure what the end result would look like, this helped keep our minds engaged while our bodies did the grunt-work).

5. Keep fit, and have fun!

If you were to do this again, what would you choose to do differently?

Taking more time to look at the condition of the stairs or subfloor would have allowed us to mull over our options and make more satisfactory decisions while not under a time restraint (i.e. replacing the stair treads and staining them instead of painting). But the time constraints were also a blessing in disguise, because we couldn’t mull things over into indecision (i.e the marble: we would have hemmed & hawed over the price and possibly not taken the plunge, and we are thrilled with the results).

Did your schedule go as planned? What took more time than you thought it would? What took less time?

Being folk who are less good at time management then rockin’ a DIY, we’re pretty stoked about the timeline being as it was. The stairs were a disaster, the subfloor nearly obliterated our will to live, and the regular dirty-dusty reno-malaise was a storm to hunker down and push through... but that’s par for the course when ripping into a nearly 100 year old house. Sure, a little extra time here... a little extra money there... but all in all this was smooth sailing in comparison to the kitchen or bathrooms, spaces that can’t be avoided in the day-to-day. Besides, the drama is exceptionally entertaining if not frequently humbling.

What is your next project going to be?

We plan on mastering the art of siesta. Then we’re back on the horse with the whole kit-n-kaboodle of a 1200 square foot basement suite. Then... more naps.

Anything else you'd like to share with us or with the readers?

(Apologies, as we couldn’t convince the teenager & cat #2 to pose in our portrait). We hope you’ve enjoyed the magic carpet ride with us, Apartment Therapy pals!

This concludes Mike and Sandie's renovation diary. You can check out the full series to see the whole renovation process, step-by-step, or you can explore all of our Renovation Diaries.

The Renovation Diaries are a new collaboration with our community in which we feature your step by step renovation progress and provide monetary support towards getting it done in style. See all of our Reno Diaries here.

(Images and diary text: Mike and Sandie)

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