Update on #Projectpool

It is time for a photo onslaught to update you on the progress that’s happening in our backyard. It is getting really exciting! And now that the weather has turned into real summer-like weather we’re getting really anxious to get the liner in the pool and get it filled up.

Late last summer before the new grass had re-grown after #projectpatio our backyard was looking like this:


We didn’t have much patio furniture to fill it out but boy did we love it! So much room… and access to the backyard via those stone steps. We were out there constantly and it allowed us to extend our use of the backyard much later into the fall. We also added a conversation set to the patio – which you can see in the next photo. We opted for the Brandemore set and ordered it through Costco.ca.

Let’s take a walk not so far down memory lane to earlier this spring to see what we were working with.


A sure sign that work was about to start. Never been so excited about orange spray paint before!


The first thing to go in was the pool. Once the pool was dug and installed (mostly) then the landscaping could begin. So, right on schedule the “pool guys” showed up and went to work.


The pool went in so efficiently. We were so impressed with how quickly they dug the pool and then put it together. In only a couple of days it looked like this. After about a week, they had pretty much wrapped up their end of things, with a promise to be back when the major stone work was complete and heavy equipment had done their job.

We had a wet spring this year, though, so that set back the landscaping team a little bit. So our pool sat like this for a couple of weeks without any other action in the backyard.


Once the landscaping team arrived, though we started to see big changes immediately.


Big armour stone on site and lots of flagstone on site to be placed. The pool surround had the concrete poured so that the pool coping could be set in place.


Then the water feature started to take shape and a lot of the heavy lifting with the skid steer. It was amazing to watch the painstakingly detailed work that takes a lot of effort. The large rocks were moved sometimes 3 or more times just to get them in the right spot, in the right shape, and then into final position after mortar had been placed.


If you’re following #projectpool on instagram, you might’ve seen my giddy post about some of the large trees showing up on site. You’ll also see in the photo above that the fence posts were starting to go in.


More fence progress and some extended patio work. That just about takes us to the end of last week and things were really starting to come together.

We’re getting pretty close and can almost see the finish line now!

Hoping to be swimming to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

What are you planning for Canada’s big day?


Boys’ rooms update and big news!

Last I shared, the boys’ rooms were on the docket for painting… and indeed they were painted. While they had a great time at my parent’s house over March Break (see below) I painted their rooms in what I dubbed “the least dramatic before and after project” since the rooms basically look the same only *slightly* more shiny.

Grandmas Rules

And while they were enjoying Grandma’s house rules, I also did a bit more shopping and indeed the design gods were with me on my trip to HomeSense and I found a pair of panels for Harrison’s room. I’m planning to add some blackout lining so that these summer months are a bit easier on us at bedtime.

We now wait for the paint to cure, in order to put a few things up on the walls – like the decals I have saved for Foster’s room. Once some of the more interesting changes have happened to their rooms, I’ll post photos of the progress.

BUT… I also promised some big news so here it is:

WE ARE PUTTING IN A POOL! (Yes, that required All Caps)

I’m calling it #projectpool so you can follow along on instagram. This week we hit a major milestone because the digging has begun.

After months of planning – seriously we started planning in October – it is finally time to see the plans come together.

Phase two of our yard projects that we planned for last year (catch up on Phase One in New Nest  – Exterior Tour), includes an in-ground pool, the required fence for said pool, the patio/hardscaping around the pool and extending the existing patio, a pool shed, a walkway from the front of the house around the side to the back, and adding some gardens and/or plants. Whew!


That’s a lot to take in, but that image does show the left side of the house that’ll be part of the plan this summer. We’re going to share part of the path to the back with our neighbours so we can each have a nice wide path until our fences, rather than two skinny ones separated by another skinny patch of grass. It pays to be friendly with your neighbours!

Here’s a closer look at the backyard area.


The pool will be right off the patio area, leaving us a patch of grass that we can still use to throw a ball around in.

We decided to ditch the hot tub altogether, since we didn’t think we would use it much. And although we thought this project might take on 3 or more phases, the addition of the pool required a bunch of other “stuff” to be done, like putting in the fence to meet by-law and safety requirements, and the shed (more of a “want” so we can store pool-related items), it made sense to do all the rest of the plan at once. So phase 2 will be the end of the major yardwork we have done. I’m sure the yard will continue to evolve though as our family grows.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to see this starting to come together.

Foster and digger

Someone else is pretty excited too!

A personalized dresser

As promised I’m bouncing around the house and bringing you a little update I tackled in Harrison’s room.

dresser before

Harrison’s dresser was repurposed from the master bedroom. We have two Malm 3-drawer dressers that we’ve had forever and we were using them in our master bedroom as dressers/bedside tables. I decided to move one over to Harrison’s big boy room since it matched the bed, and it would make for a good bedside table for him and has plenty of storage. Why only one? Because two won’t fit in the room, and it’s more than enough storage. It turns out when you’re two and a half your clothes don’t take up that much room. All of his clothes with the exception of 3 or 4 items I’ve hung in the closet are in the top two drawers of the dresser!

When I shared Harry’s room last you can see that I painted the drawer-fronts white. I just used the same Simply White colour that I had used for the trim and doors in the room. It took a few coats of paint to get a good full coverage but I like how it turned out. I started by using a brush and that just wasn’t giving a smooth and even coat, so I switched to a small roller for the third and fourth coats (a second coat with the roller for good measure) and it was much better. You could probably get away with only 2 coats if you started with a roller.

Aaaanyway, I wanted to make the dresser more personal and special just for Harrison so I decided to stencil it with his birthdate.

To London With Love DIY Stenciled Dresser

I went to Michael’s to purchase the stencils I needed, but it was going to cost $22 or something crazy like that for the stencils. I decided I could do better on my own. I can’t remember if I downloaded the stencil font or if it came with our Mac but I had a stencil font right on my computer. If you don’t have a stencil font you can download one for free from sites like this or by googling around. If you have a printer and card stock (recommended) already on hand then Bob’s Your Uncle! You can do this too for practically free!

I printed out the stencils on card stock at a size I liked (I wanted approximately 6″ high) and then I cut them out using an exacto knife (while I watched the Patriots squeak out a win on Sunday).


Then, I laid them out on the drawers and got to painting. I used Stonington Grey by Benjamin Moore – the same as the majority of the walls in the room.


I used painters tape to hold them roughly in place while I was painting and then carefully removed them. I printed more than one digit to a page which made it a bit trickier to determine how far apart they should be since the 1s take up a lot less width than the 3 for example. If you wanted to you could print each digit that you need individually and then measure a fixed width around them so that you could lay them out side by side and be sure that each digit is taking up the same amount of space. Make sense? I pretty much just eyeballed it.

Note: Harrison’s birthdate only required 4 digits, so that meant the 0 and 1, used repeatedly, were starting to get a bit gooey and wet from the paint. I worked quickly and it was fine, but if you have a similar situation using the thickest card stock you can will help, or printing and cutting out more than one stencil for the same digit.


In my case I kinda liked that the edges were looking a bit rough and not so sharp. But that’s just me.

stencil heaven

And that’s it! A simple way to personalize a dresser with a stencil. When I showed Harrison he said “Look mom, the zero is missing a piece”. He went on to point out the missing pieces in the 2 and 3. Nothing gets by that kid!

Here’s a before and after

dresser before and after

One month

Foster is one month old already! I’ll be taking a monthly photo of him, just as I did with Harrison, to document his growth and progress. I’ve taken inspiration from Young House Love once again, and am planning to take a picture on a fabric back drop each month. I’m not as handy with photoshop as John and Sherry are, so I made my own stickers for each month. I owe Foster his first newsletter.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get to it soon.

Foster 1 month

May 1st, 2013

9 lbs, 13 oz

Weekend Project: Hall Closet After

We did it!

We installed our hall closet organizer this weekend. And it was so simple!

First we had to remove all the clothes, and other stuff that was stashed in the closet.

Check out our bulbous coat hooks that were not far enough apart to make the bottom hooks very usable/accessible.

Our family room, specifically our couch, paid the price for the purging of closet items.

The bulb hooks came out quickly and easily with just two screws each. The shelving was surprisingly easy as well. It was only screwed into the wall with one screw (yep, just one!) in the top part of the shelving. The upper shelves were attached to the lower with little dowel pegs. Once all the old was out, the closet was a clean slate.

Sort of. There was a piece of wood supporting an upper shelf that pried out easily. And we needed to patch all the holes made by the screws from this closet organizer, and clearly other closet organizers past. There were way more than 5 screw holes in the closet.

Roland wanted to inspect my work so far.

This project was so quick I forgot to take more progress pictures. So I’ll just quickly break it down for you.

We patched the holes and smoothed other dents etc. Then sanded the whole closet down, and then wiped it with a damp cloth to pick up the dust. Then I gave the closet a quick coat of paint. I used Benjamin Moore Stone Hearth since I had it on hand. I actually was able to do the whole closet with just a test pot of paint that I had purchased before our kitchen and family room paint job. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t a great paint job (it’s dark in that closet, okay?) so I wouldn’t say that the closet is fully covered. But, it’s a closet, and I didn’t think it warranted going all the way to the paint store to have my new unopened gallon of paint re-shaken just for a few touch ups.

The closet installation itself was really simple too. All of the pieces actually hang all on one rail. Once your top (horizontal) rail is installed and level all you need to do is hang your vertical rails where you want them, and pop on the shelves/coat rails where ever you’d like! Easy Peasy.

So here’s the AFTER photo you’ve been waiting for.

I LOVE it! It feels so organized and spacious. We put everything back in the closet that we took out. Isn’t that amazing?

I’d like to add a few more touches to make it a bit more functional. I’d like to grab a few S-hooks at Home Depot so that I can hang a couple of my most used bags in the closet from the coat rail. I’d like to find a small tray so that dropping a few things on the top shelf (on the right) is easy as we enter and things literally don’t slip through the cracks. And finally, I need to pick up a floor mat or boot tray for the newly opened floor space to corral our boots/shoes and protect the floor.

And one more look.

I mentioned in my last post about our family room that Roland and I were “in talks” about what to do about the fireplace. I wanted to change it, and he didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

After living with the fireplace in the newly painted room I’ve found that the brick isn’t burning my eyeballs and making me want to pull my hair out as much as it did before. But, I did think that we could improve the look of the fireplace without doing anything too costly or time-consuming.

So on Tuesday night after Harrison had gone to bed I pulled out my painting supplies and the test pot of Mink paint that I had left over from the test swatches and painted the mantlepiece. The hardest part was getting into the little grooves, and avoiding getting any on the walls. I gave it a second coat on Wednesday while Harrison had his morning nap. Thank goodness that kid is a good sleeper!

It’s a small change but I think it makes a big difference.



In other family room progress news, a couple of weeks ago we finally bit the bullet and ordered a media console from Costco. I was a bit hesitant to order online since we couldn’t see it in the flesh wood? beforehand. It arrived on Thursday and we put it together that night. No more glass coffee table holding up our tv! In case you can’t tell I’m doing a happy dance over here. Another small change that’s made a big difference in the room.

Embarrassing before:

Sorry about the picture quality. Had to snap a quick picture before we did away with this disaster.

Much better after:

That ticks off a couple more items on our family room to-do list. So now it looks like this:

  • Source and buy new couch.
  • Wait 8-10 weeks for delivery
  • Purchase new or “rediscover” secondhand arm chairs for more seating in the room
  • Paint
  • Find shelving units or display storage for either side of the fireplace
  • Get a media storage unit for tv, speakers and receiver to replace the old coffee table that we are currently using to hold up our tv — yup we’re using a glass coffee table and the receiver and speakers are on the floor
  • DIY a coffee table
  • New ceiling fixtures
  • Change the look of the fireplace without painting it. (I’ve got something up my sleeve)  Okay, so this wasn’t a complete overhaul but it’s definitely a change.
  • Art for the room. DIY?
  • Window treatments
  • Accessories – cushions, throws, baskets, objets d’art etc.
  • Find some side tables and maybe ottomans for the club chairs
  • Add a rug to define the space (I’m not sure if I like the rug on carpet idea, so it’s just a thought right now)
The walls are looking mighty bare so I’ll probably work on getting something up on the walls next. The swanky “new” mantlepiece needs some accessories too, but I’ll probably decorate for the holidays first and work on the everyday decor some time in the new year.
What do you think? Can you see the difference in the mantlepiece? Anyone else have a make-shift media console or a coffee table not being used as a coffee table?