Downtown Dwelling - Front Entry

A year ago we made the big move to sell our country property and move downtown Hamilton.  I have moments when I miss the country, the peacefulness and privacy of it.  But we don't have any regrets, and found we settled quickly back into downtown life.

The house we own is very much like every other house in downtown Hamilton - a 2 1/2 story double brick century house.  Before we bought it, it had been a rental, and was in very rough shape.  It's hard to restore character to a house that had been so neglected.

This was our front entrance when we bought the house, 6 years ago.

You can't really see it, but the ceiling is stucco, and the walls had 6 layers of paper with paint gunked over it.  
While we rented it out, the entry way pretty much remained the same.  The lack of baluster and railing made it easy to move furniture up and down the stairs.  When we moved back in, we removed the two doors into the hallway and living room to open it up.  I scrapped all the wallpaper off and we hired a taper to do a skimcoat over the walls and ceiling.  These past few weeks, I worked on constructing the staircase to incorporate a baluster and railing once again.

While I wish we could have kept the original hardware floors, they were in such rough shape.  The boards were so thin they were splintering and nails were coming through.  On the landing, however, I managed to refinish the hardwood.  It took two days of intense sanding, but I managed to get almost all of the deep scratches out.

Before and after:

The view facing the front door looked something like this:

We hung a new chandelier (Restore bargain find), I built a cover for the radiator, and we hung new closet doors.

The trim work - the baseboards, the baluster, the handrail, the spindles - took the most amount of time.  I haven't done much trimwork, but it's amazing how quickly I caught onto measuring and cutting all the angles.

The baluster is from Glancaster Stair and Railing.  I convinced them to let me into the back of their shop, were I (of course) found this beautiful, chunky baluster that had been previously installed, so I got it for the same price I would have paid for a skinny one.

 Here's a close-up of the radiator cover I built.  I used stamped metal sheets from the hardware store, and a piece of barnwood that we had leftover from our farmhouse for the top.  It's a handy spot to have right near the front door.

And of course, I built a Joanna-Gains inspired sign.

A bigger project we've been working on this summer is our back addition.  I finally got the permit from the city.  What an exciting day that was!  After months of planning, revising, figuring, we are now about to go ahead with the construction.  I ordered the material, and it went up in one day.

Most people don't get excited about lumber, but this was kinda exciting for me.

Initially I really wanted to build the addition myself.  But after considering the floor is constructed out of 2'x12"x16' boards, (which are freaking huge and freaking heavy) I asked my husband, Dad, brother, and neighbour to build it.

GoliathTech was the company who installed the Helical Piles (the foundation posts).  They are these massive screws that got drilled 21' into the ground.  They are huge, but I feel very confident that our addition will never sag, shift or sink.

After the floor was in place, the walls went up.  All in one day.

Then the wall sheathing (plywood).  This photo is morning, to dusk.

Well, that's all I have to share on the project side of things.  In other family news, our twins turned 5 this summer!

They are so bright and beautiful, full of life and joy.

On the Canada Day 150, we visited the tall ships.  There was one from the Netherlands, and I got this rather epic shot.  Canadian girls, with their Dutch heritage flag, and the backdrop of the Hamilton waterline in the background.

Even though we have lots going on, we have had plenty of opportunity to take advantage of this glorious summer.  The loveliest part about living downtown is that we have more time and money to be able to enjoy life.  We live in a pretty stellar neighbourhood, full of friends and community-embracing neighbours, which makes home a very desirable place to be.  But when the introverts in us call, we are able to put the canoe on the car and take off for a few days.

Viva la vida - Hurray for life!


  1. I love this post of yours. It seems as if you've travelled a long long way but now you're back where you belong. Brava! As always, I'm interested in what, if anything, in your portfolio is for sale. Love the repurposed armoires and particularly anything with screened birds or flowers. Let me know if you would, please. The very best from Ellen Davidson (still proud owner of two of your beautiful French stencilled dressers)

  2. Hello, I am also hoping you will return to repurposing furniture. Although I don't own a piece, I would love to purchase one of your stenciled pieces.

  3. I have one of your pieces (teal blue buffet) purchased about 6 years ago. Still love it and get so many compliments on it. We're moving across the country to an old farmhouse in Alberta, and would love a dining table with the same aesthetic. Yell if you come across one and have the time to refinish/repurpose. I love to browse through your work; it inspires me (despite lack of any talent). Take care!