Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Our Brockton Village row house renovation

Joe and I live in a little 100 year old row house that is 13 1/2 feet wide in the Brockton Village neighbourhood of Toronto.  We bought the house about a little more than a year ago knowing that we'd have to replace the kitchen and take down a few walls, but with the help of our talented, amazing and supportive family, we're more than halfway through gutting the whole house, transforming it from a very dark former rooming house to a light-filled and airy, contemporary and comfortable family home.  

Because our house was divided into two units, we had kitchens on the first floor and second floor, so we decided to renovate one floor at a time. We worked on the first floor first and lived completely on the second floor.  We finished the first floor in December. I'll post photos of that later.  When we found out we were pregnant, with the support of our family, we decided to tackle the second floor so we could get rid of all the nasty 100 year-old plaster and lathe and the many layers of paint and flooring.  Joe and I are now living completely on our first floor, with our bed in our den.  We have a trap door separating our first floor from the second floor.  Our room and the baby's room will be done in a few weeks. 

My dad build us a set of beautiful stairs made of steel, powder-coated in a dark grey colour, with thick walnut treads. My dad is amazing...

Left: Removing the original stairs
Centre: Our new stairs, covered with plywood until our renos are complete. Note the fabulous hand rail!
Right: The walnut treads of stairs seen from above.

Right: The original hallway. Note the lower ceilings
Left: Our new hallway. We lifted the ceiling to the original height and moved all the walls.  The openings at the top of the walls are going to be fitted with transom windows.  Because the house is a row house, attached on either side, and we face north-south, these transom windows allow light to pass between the bedrooms.  

Bottom: The original master bedroom.  Note the sticky tile stuck directly to the original hardwood, ruining it. 
Top: The new bedroom, a bit larger, with a few more feet of ceiling height. The window you can see is going to be replaced with an awning window that is a big bigger than the one shown here.

Reverse angle of new master bedroom.  

Right: The original middle bedroom. Yuck! Look at that weird closet!
Left: New bedroom that will be the baby's room.  

The view towards the back of the second floor.  We're going to tackle that later this year.  We're doubling the size of the washroom and the very back room will be our third bedroom.  


  1. interesting and impressive project!! Everything must be done now, and your baby cozy in his/her little room.
    1) where did you put removal debris during tear-down? do you have a driveway/wide streets/front lawn?
    2)did you have to get consent/notify immediate attached neighbours?
    3)any problems with plumbing and electrical because of attached rowhouse..or are all houses completely separate including all systems.I
    I'm thinking of buying a similar rowhouse also 100+ yrs, similar width, no garage, alleyway access difficult. Do you think decent renos could be done for $150K?..needs plumbing

  2. Hey,
    1) bin would not fit on our front lawn and back alley was too narrow for the truck to make the turn to drop bin off. We piled everything in our backyard and then had a guy with a bin on a truck pick the debris up. We have spent many thousands of dollars on this!
    2) we did not get permission from the neighbors, but did speak to them about it. Warning, the walls between our houses were simply studs and plaster/ drywall.
    3) no problems
    4) we did most of the work ourselves for a hell of a lot less than 150k. Our next door neighbors got their whole house redone for about that much, but it has taken 9+ months and is still not done. We worked weekends, not even every weeke d, for 9 months and most of the house is done.

  3. The renovations are going great, I presume. I bet your house will look gorgeous after the extreme makeover that you guys are doing.

  4. Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!

    Row House

  5. Many people these days are reinvesting in their homes by remodeling or renovating them. A great way to add lasting beauty and gain curb appeal, is to rework or redo the exterior of the house. There are literally hundreds of options when it comes to changing the look of your home. Roofing, windows, trims, wall coverings... the list is endless.

    maintenance Peabody


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