Mill work..........

   I have had many fantastic skilled trades come and go, each one contributing to the completion of our home. 

As mentioned in past posts, I was fortunate to start off on the right path by being introduced to our fantastic PM. I had also mentioned that Florian Qendro( PM )was referred by a dear friend of mine who I have the privilege to have worked with for a couple of years now. 

His name is Tamas and is one of the most talented finished carpenters I have had the pleasure of meeting. YES>>He is hot headed, wise beyond his years, has an eye like a hawk at spotting imperfections and hands down one of the absolute best in the business. His attention to detail makes him a workaholic and his finished work speaks for itself. I admire him very much. He will be building my kitchen and all my built ins.....soon.....i hope. He has also custom built all my interior doors and eventually my exterior door......soon.....i hope.

I hired another carpenter(GERSON) to do all my trim, panelling, baseboards etc.I have worked with him in the past and he comes highly recommended by many ,including Tamas , gerson isa fantastic carpenter. I decided to do an applied moulding instead of a recessed panel. I am madly in love with the recessed panel look, it adds richness and texture. I went through the pros and cons of it and decided to do the applied option. Most obvious reason is the cost both for the labour and the finishing (painting),the blown budget on my darn ensuite may have played a part in this decision!  Either way, i am very happy with the final result!

Trim and Gerson at

Kitchen, Doors, builtin Tamas (kivalo fine millwork ) at

also a change for Florian Qendro PM) has changed his company name to Atelier Custom Homes



I have no idea why the images decided to randomly turn...ugh


hey its Tamas!   

hey its Tamas!


the home stretch....

I am notorious for falling behind on this sort of stuff so in order not to disappoint i took a really long hiatus on updating the progress of the house.

It is now October, since I have become the PM, the house have slowed down but we are well on our way to a September....October.......November-ish move! Tile has been completed, mostly without a hitch. I am thrilled with how it turned out. I researched a long time to find the perfect tile and I do have my go to places.


For mY entrance and powder room I went to Saltilo on Tycos drive. A gorgeous selection if you are looking for something different. I went with a Northstar patterned mosaic with Blue stone (which is a charcoal colour??) a moonstone ( which is a blueish colour?) and an oriental white which is surprisingly ...white. According to my tiler its a nightmare to install but hey! I am in love with metal channels and since my accent on all the fine detailing is brass , yes brass!!! I used a thin brass channel to break up the tiles and borders. Its subtle but i think it looks "sick" as a younger friend of mine says. I repeated it in the powder room, same pattern but without the blue stone which given the small size of the PR, it suits it perfectly.

My Kitchen.....I went with a very large scale tile which I spoke about in past update. District garage from Stone Tile (caslefield) ( deal with Graciela, she's fantastic). It looks like an aged carrara marble. Its has a honed look which I'm hoping will somewhat hide the sins of a working kitchen . 

Ensuite.....oh the ensuite. I have never had one before, so this one nearly got me divorced. It is very easy to destroy the budget on this and .....I did! I refuse to do a total cost on this one. I do not recommend you attempt this . I went with a gorgeous mosaic in grey and white with brass channels. Shower walls and floors are white of course because I believe in being practical??? The tile was purchased from my friends at TYCOS tile. Absolutely gorgeous tile, speak with stacey if you go.  Countertops and tub surround are from Ariston marble.  I am fortunate to have a beautiful barrel ceiling above my tub. I knew that I wanted to panel it and put a beautiful light fixture above it. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could know... because the budget wasn't quite blown enough by now. On a trip to Rivalda for another client, I had spotted this beautiful diamond polished stainless steel tile. I bit the bullet and had my tiler do the barrel and it looks great.

My fixtures...... I went with HORUS. A line from France . A gorgeous , vintage looking, delicate piece of expensive eye candy. Did I say gorgeous???? I went for nickel because I chickened out of going with the brass. I did , I admit it....I said no to brass. I don't regret the decision, I still have my fixtures and my mirrors to play with!! I decided to go to RH for my double vanity. Its a stained black oak which ties in nicely with the black windows and black accents throughout the house. 

My daughter's bedroom tile came from Stone Tile, I love the palette in this bathroom. Shower walls and floor are an incredible porcelain that looks like folded paper. I accented with a random pattern of greys, blush and cream. 

My son's bathroom (shared bathroom). Once again I went to stone tile for this tile. I fell in love with it when I used it on a past project. Its mews Ink and fog. Slightly more contemporary tile but I couldn't resist . 

Moving in.....

The exterior is getting close to being completed, with the exception of landscaping, garage door, front door and lighting . Im so excited to put all my focus on the interior.  

It has been an absolute joy to get to this point. As stated in past posts, it's not all roses but we were incredibly fortunate to have had an incredible PM to get us to where we are now. It is very reassuring to have someone that you trust that has your best interest in mind and I truly felt it. We have become good friends and his job coming to an end is bitter sweet for me.   I admire his professionalism, knowledge and kindness. Way back when we were looking for a PM, we had decided that we needed help up to drywall and exterior completion. Now that the time is coming for Florian to move on, I am a bit....ok very, nervous about holding down the fort so to speak. I have learned a lot over the last few months so I am hoping I (we) can keep it together.  I am also very excited to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. 

A run down of all the inside stages we have gone through up to drywall.


Ok seriously like this guy, his name is  Mr. DASH....yes Dash, he is quick, he whistles a lot and he sings....loud. He doesn't smile much ad he sucks at texting back but a fantastic plumber . 

Hvac, Mr Paulin, A caracter in his own right, always smiling, efficient, over worked,  along with his knowledgable crew. 


A personal favourite crew of mine, one being my darling, patient husband ! Lucky for me I come from a long line of family electricians...They all worked relentlessly for the impatient, neurotic home owner (ME!!)


SCOTTY and his crew .....A severely underated trade, yet so incredibly important to a homes well being.  It was truly a science to Scotty and it's amazing to see how much he loves his job and respects  his crew.  They made the job site a fun place to be and I thoroughly enjoyed having  them.

 Inspections have passed with fling colours for all the above trades and once again, with the exception of the electricians, the referrals where Florian's.

Final crew to date is DRYWALL> This job was monumental for me. So many pieces to the puzzle with dormer windows,  arches, cathedral and coffered ceilings. A rather large crew of handsome brazilian gentlemen.  *********Ok this post is for all the ladies that are interested in renovating and  that appreciate drywall ok!! ;)


next up tile porn!






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Keeping my eye on the prize....

Well it couldn't all be hunky dory..... I guess it adds excitement to the drama of building a house. I will definitely categorize this entry as one of the "downs" in the project. 

Progress has been great, moving along without a hitch, we are ahead of schedule!!!  you heard correctly AHEAD of schedule. The original plan was to be in my new dream home ( i keep saying MY...I know its selfish and greedy but at this current moment its my baby!!)  by Christmas. I got so cocky once I saw the quick progress that I shaved (not 1, not 2.......3 months off my timeline. I assured my kids and husband that we would be in by September!.....yes...I know,  sadly not one but TWO good friends involved in the project politely chuckled. Anyway ,I'm trying to wrap my brain around the origional time line once again.

Ok , so back to my not so hunky dory entry. I really could not be happier with exterior of my house. Florian has been essential in making sure that no detail is missed. As I mentioned before, I have an obsession with the small details and how they work together to compliment the bigger picture, it's what I do, but it is so easy to miss things in your own project. Our trades have all come highly recommended by Florian. I believe I have mentioned this before but it doesn't hurt to do it again.  It's very important to trust the person you hire. The trades they bring in or recommend generally have a pre established work relationship established. To see if your Project manager/contractor is worth his weight watch closely how he interacts with his trades and vice versa, respect and trust is critical in order to avoid unwanted expenses and mess ups. I have been on sites where the crew complain to the homeowner about any number of issues . I dropped the ball when i decided to go rogue and hire a trade that I knew could potentially be a "loose canon" as i eventually nicknamed him. . I did it ANDi regret it.!!!  I have a tendency to go with my gut. I had met this particular trades person on a different job site. The work they did was good, slow but good. Gentleman who "ran" the company had issues as we all do I guess, but he seemed genuine in wanting the opportunity to prove himself. I had a meeting prior to the job starting, "air was cleared" , deposit given as was his word in completing the job properly and in a timely manner. I was fortunate that the 2 gentleman that actually did the job where pleasant to deal with but when he showed up on the site, things were very unconfortable and tense. The one thing I failed to mention and I am embarrassed to admit, is that I may have been a tad more inclined to over look his "issues" because he did have the most reasonable quote.....there, I said it, I am not proud it , it was an amateur move (actually completely BONE HEADED!!!) . I will not name the trade or the company name as its not really the point. The job was completed with many outstanding issues that I doubt will ever get resolved. Frankly, I DO NOT want him around my house, he kind of cast a dark cloud on my house for a bit but that too will fade. I have learned my lesson , not to say its all butterflies and roses from here on but.....

Back to the good stuff...... The trades that have followed where fantastic and yes they all came highly recommended by Mr Qendro (PM) once again. The skilled hands of Mr. Olipio and his crew carefully constructed my beautiful porch. This took quite a few meetings and extra hours of prep work to get just right. Florian handled most of the calculations to make sure there were no errors in the rough framing and the finished carpentry. The results are even better than I had imagined. I was worried about proportion and scale. The porch compliments the house perfectly and the detail in the millwork is fantastic. It still needs paint but I absolutely love the result. Next up, drywall madness!!

Meet The Masons....


Back to business..........I have made it a habit to drive around on as many street to spy on  home as I can. If you have seen me around snapping pictures I apologize...I mean no harm. The finishing on an exterior of a home can make it or break it as far as I'm concerned, Too ornate, mis matched stone, stucco colour, roof colour ....oh, how I hate a mismatched roof colour! Lots of decisions need to be made as there is no room for error, this stage is pretty costly. I won't harp on the "eye brow" pet peeve again. I went through a phase where it was all about the Georgian Home. It is still one of my all time favourite, I like the traditional Red irregular brick with its symmetrical exterior design, detailed mouldings ,over sized chimney and large porch. I always wanted that kind of home. I still really do love it but I found myself drawn to a french design. Well, my version of one anyway. Growing up in Malta , many of my uncles where masons so I developed an appreciation for the skill and strength it takes to be one.  

 I was very attracted to light stone facades. I fell HEAD OVER HEELS in love with Indiana limestone . INDIANA RUBBLE ACTUALLY ! There is nothing "french" about where it comes from because low and behold it comes from Indiana! We ( Florian & I)drove to 2 different stone yards and we hand picked the whitest palettes of stone.  I have seen it used in so many different applications but I loved the Over grouting method. Doubt that is actually the term for it but that is what it looks like. I was so worried about the masons not being able to do this "strange " method. I dreaded hours of sample walls.....Lucky for me I have Mr Qendro with his pocket full of tricks and the most skilled trades . Who knew it was a relatively common method???  Well, I cannot take credit for it... but I am so happy with the choice. Each stone is hand chiselled creating a "rock face" which basically means the facade is bumpy and natural looking. This process went much faster than I could have expected and everyday I would go check (stalk the masons) on the progress. I was so happy when the last peace of the original stone( which looked like bacon....honestly it did!)  from the origional bungalow was entombed behind this new stone! We debated about what to do around the arched windows, a method I was shown is called "soldiers" which is basically 2" chiselled pieces vertically sandwiched side by side creating an arch. The result is gorgeous!!  Another step into getting my dream home built. 


The Frame work

  So many decisions have to be made, way before this stage starts. We are learning as we go that some parts move really quickly others drag due to delays, errors and weather of course. I consider myself very fortunate that the weather has cooperated at the most part. One of the first stages to figure out was the windows. This is a large chunk all at once but it is crucial that the right windows are picked. I knew I wanted arched window, as large as possible to allow a lot of light in. The one thing that my last home lacked ,in the original part of the house was natural lighting. I LOVE THE SUN, I need it, perhaps from growing up on a mediterranean island?  The funny thing is that my Mother hates the sun, her Mother hated the sunlight. If there was a window it was curtained or shutters where installed. It may have been more of a necessity in keeping the house cool, all I know, is that I hated the way it made me feel and so light I crave. We looked around quite a bit for the right company, they had to be well made, relatively economical and of course look great. We decided on black with brass leading inside. I know the brass is not for everyone but I am so in love with it. This is when a good knowledgable Project Managers comes in . Florian knows his stuff. He has a good understanding of what I am looking for. He seems to be one step ahead of me and no detail was forgotten. The radius of the arch was perfected in order to accommodate a proportionate  amount of stone that will eventually surround it. I have many ( many) quirks, window shapes, "eyebrows"have to be perfect,( both human and architectural), the flow,  layout and a complete obsession with using that perfect shade and colour.

The framers brought the house to life, ,I could see it, i could visualize the kitchen, the view from the garden, i really loved this part. 

These incredible skilled people, let buy "Tony" somehow break down this complicated web of drawings from paper to a 3d structure. Within a week it came to life. I have to say I went through a few weird days where i thought the house was too large, then too small. I am normally very sure about what I want, when it comes to design. I can picture what it will look like to a T, but the size kept throwing me off. Once the "walls" were up I felt better. Changes happen, it doesn't matter how many plans I have looked at and critiqued, changes are always made and I had a few. I asked for advice when I was unsure, trick is to not ask too many people.  Since these changes I haven't looked back. Onwards to the next fun stage, windows are installed and I meet the MASONS!

Getting dirty?

Gaston and his crew of eight work like mad! First  unexpected decision was on the table, ....WATERPROOFING. Seems like a no brainer? Well, question was do  we do it from the outside of from the inside? Doing it from the outside is the ideal way to have it done, however it meant spending more and having neighbours and landscaping disruptions. We figured being high up on a ravine our chances of water coming in the house where slim to begin with ( we hope ;/) . Florian really encouraged us to get it done so we did and I'm glad we did. Nothing worse than spending money just to have it buried in cement literally??.....but it was the right decision.

Bring out the mud boots, the house looked worse i did what I do best to stay positive and sane..... I went shopping!! Well more like looking and sourcing. You do know that I am stretching the truth a bit when I insinuated that I hadn't started till that day ?. 

That is my therapy, I love doing it and I do that a lot ( PINTREST!!!)  . The beauty of my job is that I am constantly looking at new and exciting things for clients' homes. Gathering, borderline  hoarding images and suppliers in my head. I have developed this method throughout the years that really works.( for me). The trick  is to break each room down to the smallest detail. The walls, the windows, the ceiling, then the light, the paint colour, the flooring of course and so on. I paint a picture in my head of what I feel would work for each client. Only then, can my mind move to the next room. If I can't get a mental picture I feel blocked and am unable to move forward.. Sounds weird, but thats how my brain works. I find I do that at the shop as well. Every year around October 1st my thoughts are consumed by setting up for Christmas. I break it down in my head section by section, colour, texture.... I would like to think that there is method to my madness.

Two months into the reno and my friend Gaston and his tough crew are still in and out of my "home"  breaking walls and building them back up. Next up.....Tony the framer!





Now what??

Ok, so where was I?? Yes, the keys to our "new old "house. In my mind , I was ready to demolish the day we took possession. I have told clients this many times but when it came to myself, all my own advice went out the window! I always recommend living in the space for a while, find out what you love about it and what you can't live with. Look at the way the sun hits, best views of the garden  as well as worst angles of the house. No body likes looking at their neighbours bricks , so really think about it. I have always insisted that my " grand" dining room would face my garden. My Sketch after sketch i always drew it in the back. , kitchen side, family on the other side....Research is so important, I use PINTEREST a lot... For any of you obsessed with candy crush , Downtown ( dontown??) Abbey?? you know what I am talking about.... PINTEREST is mine. Morning, noon and night, if i had a second i was PINNING!. You can follow me @rizololaco btw. It is an amazing source that is continuously growing .

I started researching architects even before we took possession. We even used 2 of our "visits" to have them measure the space out. Our hopes were to be completely ready to submit drawings as soon as we had possession. We narrowed it down to 2 architects. Both seemed really nice and qualified . It was tough deciding but we went with Rocco! He seemed familiar with Etobicoke bylaws and issues we may encounter. The biggest hurdle was going to be the RAVINE we were on. Any way, it was the beginning of winter so we "had Time".

Ok, so being that I am obsessed with the "perfect" layout and good design, I gave him exactly what i wanted, plus reference pictures etc. This was going be easy and I'll be darned if I was going to delay anything because of something I had done. Well Rocco was great, he drew exactly what I had wanted, one ridiculous wall after another.  ME, the one that always harps on logical layout and use of space.What had I done???? I started  questioning  everything. I had made a huge mistake! It was a tough day but I was determined to fix it!! So i did, I made many changes ,i watched the sun direction and flow and I designed it. I moved the dining room to the side, kitchen was overlooking the ravine..... Well my second meeting after revisions was MUCH BETTER. I breathed a huge sigh of relief....I CAN DO THIS!!

It wasn't perfect but darn near close. A couple  more tweaks and the layout was great and I ( we ) were happy. This was my dream home, it felt right. 

The next few months consisted of many calls, emails, follow ups with conservation, city, zoning.....Rocco was great, we worked together to get it moving. He is incredibly efficient at how he works and within a few months I had Permits in hand!.



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