Oh hi there! This is Laura....for once. We’ve kind of delegated Sarah to be the blog portion of Velvet Sweatpants, because, well, I don’t right good. Okay that was a joke, I generally am okay at grammar (I do realize it’s “write well”), but I don’t consider myself a “writer” by any stretch. To be completely honest, it’s never been something I enjoyed. I was the kid who spent 6 hours carefully crafting the title page for my essay project with springs, pull out features, and carefully colored images, then a hot 20 mins on the essay itself. Sarah has such a gift with story telling and words, and I adore reading about her thoughts and giggling at her wit. However, I do occasionally feel the need or desire to write about something, and this is one of those brief moments in time. I’m going to share with you all about our, (my boyfriend Benn and my), first home renovation project. We will start with the Main Floor for today as it was kind of a two part process. I’ll start from the very beginning and give you a run down of why, how, the ups and downs and if we would consider doing it again....

From the beginning:

...and we are going way back here. The desire to renovate and build came from a young young age. It's really been a dream of mine for a longgggg time...

- Trading Spaces circa 2000...who else was obsessed with the show as a youngin'?? I can honestly say I haven't really watched any home improvement shows since, but this was my jam as a kid. I'm fairly sure this is where the inspiration began. I used to want to repaint my room every few months, (this was not allowed, but I did it as often as permitted), move my furniture around weekly (dragging dressers on blankets up and down stairs by my 11 year-old self), and get my hands on the rest of the house if I could. (My parents graciously allowed me to ”Design” and help redecorate the living room once - it was very “trading spaces” with some pretty kitschy ideas. I wouldn’t say it was great, but they were kind and impressed because they were just that type of supportive parents.)

-My dream as a child was to build a house from the ground up. Like, literally I wanted to frame it all, finish it all, build my own furniture - do it all. I recall my mom telling me my cousin had built his own house and I really thought that was something I wanted to do as well. At the time I didn’t know what that all entailed, but I just thought that would be the coolest.

Fast Forward 10 years...Interior design school, graduated, started my career...blah we are! So in that ”blah blah” time, I learned a lot about residential construction, interior design, etc etc and started to understand truly what it all entailed. I’ve always been passionate about residential building and design. I realized how huge it would be to actually build a house all by myself, so the dream turned into wanting to renovate a home by myself, but actually by “ourselves” because I have a handy partner now who just so happens to be a journeyman trades person (Benn). Anyhow, fast forward a bit, and Benn and I bought our first house just under two years ago, and this is where the story really begins...

Phase 1: Finding the house.

It took us about a year and a half to find the house we ultimately bought. We were picky, not about finding our dream home, but about finding a home on a good lot, with various development potentials, in an area we thought would be great for investment, and for a smokin' good price...smokin' good price being high up there on the list. It was tough and time consuming, but when the “one” popped up on MLS, (I would scour the app multiple times a day, every day), we jumped, and due to mostly luck, we got it for a steal. It was a PROJECT. I was PUMPED. Benn was down, but much less pumped. His sense of reality is admittedly greater than mine. Being the frugal go-getters we are, we knew we would do everything we possibly could on our own and only hire out trades when super necessary, (taping and mudding drywall). Benn saw two people working full time, and coming home to work full-time for months on end...and I just saw the beautiful end product and a dream come true...with quite a bit of work. Both good perspectives, and I think both are needed in this endeavor. This picture perfectly depicts our differing emotions on day one of renos:

Laura: feisty and ready to slayyyyy Benn: “oh god, here we go”

And this was our starting point. . .

Main floor before photos:

I do love me a banquette, but it could use some love.

Salvaged the copper plant hangers for Sarah.

Layers and layers of paneling removal is what I remember.

I envisioned ship lap.

New idea: window coverings in the shower.

Mmmm the hue in this space.

This space smelled a bit funny - and had a mean slope to it.


Phase 2: The plan.

The planning part is the fun part for me, it’s what I do. I did up the design drawings, planned out all layouts and picked all finishes.


This was the vision I had for the space...



GOAL: To create a two suite home: the main floor being for me and Benn until we decide to rent it out one day, and the basement was always intended for rental. We wanted the spaces to be super attractive and functional so they could be easily rented, but wanted to do it as inexpensively as possible. We spent where we needed to and found ways to save where we could ..... and always found deals of course on everything. (Side note: we call Benn the Kijiji King - 'nuff said).

STYLE: Cottage chic with a touch of boho - a space that would be cozy, welcoming, feel like you weren’t in the city, and be bright and fresh.


-Remove wall between living room and kitchen to create a more open, bright concept and replace with a rustic wood clad engineered beam and posts.

-Add a 2nd bathroom (powder room) to the master bedroom, (handy to have my journeyman plumber).

-Create a flex room with Murphy bed in the current dining room. (More bedrooms = better rental)

-New Kitchen, flooring, plumbing, plumbing fixtures, electrical, ship lap to cover up the mess of plaster textured walls everywhere, trim, light fixtures, ..... so basically everything.