Gallery

Before and After’s

It’s been a slow process, but the day has arrived! This Victorian semi has been completely transformed. Take a trip down memory lane as we reveal the past to present shots of our home. Looking for professional pictures? Please view the “Photos” page.

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Lessons Not Learned

Today was the day that we had planned on staging Millbrook. I had arranged for photography, inspection, Matterport videography, cleaning and the likes. I was so excited to place it up for sale. I had hoped that my hope alone would somehow speed up the renovation process in its final stages. I was wrong.

It’s been a long, long six months. There’s been some amazing memories built over the past few, including Aaron’s proposal to me, all of which have been sadly hazed by the stresses brought on by this renovation. Nothing has seemed to work in our favour. I’ve yelled about it. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve cried about it: none of which have changed anything for the better – at least, from my point of view. It’s impeded on Aaron’s and my happiness. It’s cut my patience shorter than I’d like to admit and my views have been skewed under the pressure. If you Google “stresses caused by renovations,” you’ll see a mile long list of articles written by psychologists and those who have gone before explaining just how difficult and taxing it is on relationships in particular. Unfortunately, there’s nothing special about us in comparison to the rest of those who have embarked on this journey and I’ve succumbed, time and time again, to the overwhelming emotions of it all.

Yesterday was no exception. When Aaron walked into an unpainted home with the deck installed wrong, kitchen items gone missing, holes in the wall and the long list of deficiencies not rectified by any stretch of the imagination, I nearly had a nervous breakdown. With my stager going away on vacation for three weeks, the sale of the home would now be pushed into December. I displayed by dissatisfaction to my contractor in an irritable-toned text message and called my business partner to complain. Yet again, I wasn’t able to to control the situation, and for someone who doesn’t know how to relinquish control, it had me in the tizziest of tizzies.

On a normal day, I would have jumped into my car and driven from the east end to Toronto in a heart beat. I would have walked around the house in anger, not accomplishing much other than raising my heart rate, thinking in my frazzled state-of-mind that me being present within the home may change something. Instead, I decided to go to church, somewhere I haven’t been all that much since renovations started. I prayed that someone would give me a message (mind you, thinking it would be a message of encouragement). I should have learned by now to be more specific in my prayers. I got a message all right – a message of conviction about my attitude and how I was treating others in my anger, specifically Aaron. I’ve been known the point a blaming finger or two…or three, maybe even all five. I got convicted of God providing me with a blessing and me letting it get to my head. I got convicted of treating those who are my partners in life – my fiance – with condemnation and contempt. Maybe the renovation got to my head and my heart more than I had realized. The possession of my home doesn’t make me better than anyone else. It doesn’t mean that God has more favour on me than anyone else. It doesn’t mean I can treat others in a manner that supersedes God’s grace. It doesn’t mean I can act in a way that doesn’t reflect a Christlike character, even when times get hard. It made me realize how imperfect I am and how much I need to stop pointing fingers and change who I’ve become. Not the message I had intended to receive, let me tell you!

Feeling a bit discouraged, I went home to talk to my mom, questioning the house altogether. What if, I thought, maybe I had thought God had blessed us with this project, but He actually hadn’t? Maybe I wanted it so badly that I stamped God’s approval on it all on my own. I had thought, without a doubt, that God’s hand was on it. What if it actually wasn’t? Maybe that’s why it isn’t working out. Maybe that’s why it’s so delayed. I began second-guessing myself and my decisions – until I decided to leave for work an hour earlier than I ever do (like, EVER) – and started listening to a sermon that I truly believe was meant for me this morning. The message: wait. Wait and wait and wait some more. It talked about me creating a timeline that I assumed God had to stick to. Well obviously, right? Because I have everything figured out to a T – the market, the new mortgage rules, my finances…it has to sell NOW or it will never succeed. Wrong. Wait and wait and wait some more, I heard.

The sermon talked about God not having an expiry date and working outside of time. It talked about God’s numerous mysteries that are filled with variety, and God working in mysterious ways we can’t even comprehend. It talked about learning lessons – lessons on patience, lessons on trust, lessons of maturity beginning to take root the more we wait. It talked about there being nothing that I can do to make it happen other than believing the promises that God’s given me. It talked about the work God had to do in me for a greater glory. It talked about doing a work in my heart in the waiting period, and gaining a peace in His sovereign will. It talked about God making “everything beautiful in its time,” and that those who wait “will renew their strength.” Well, I’ve run out of my own strength quite some time ago. And I have not learned that lesson of patience that I was supposed to. And I haven’t honed my character like I thought I would. I haven’t learned the lessons yet that perhaps I’ve been put in this position in the first place to learn.

I think I know it all – I think I know the bigger picture with my extensive knowledge in real estate transactions. I think I know how to do relationships. But the truth is, I know nothing at all. God sees the picture bigger than I will ever see it. And He sees me, flaws and all, and gently tells me, “Wait. And while you wait, change. And until you change, you’ll wait some more.”

I pray that I’ll listen to the messages that were given to me as I wait, as I try to trust, as I try to not take advantage of this blessing. May He continue to do a work in me as I continue to trust in His timing and until I learn all of the lessons not learned.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

 

 

Business With A Purpose

Powder Room

 

The time has come! Within the next few weeks, we will place our very first renovation project up for sale! While we would have loved to stay in this amazing 3 bed, 3 bath home in the heart of Riverdale, my fiancé and I will be settling into a waterfront condo in Whitby, only minutes away from my mom and sister’s houses. Second renovation project, here we come!

Our experience has been a very educational one, as we learned the what-to-do’s but mostly what-not-to-do-next-time’s. We’ve slept, breathed and lived this renovation, making sure every detail was well thought out, every error was corrected and every maneuver was monitored. We’re excited to unmask and reveal our creation, from our colour choices, to our bathroom designs, to our custom kitchen selection. We’ve spent countless hours ensuring everything coordinated and complimented one another, from selecting a kitchen faucet to bathroom accessories. I’m excited to stop having nightly dreams about Millbrook, but we’re all the more excited to move onto our new chapter in life: upgrading and settling into our waterfront property, taking long walks on the beach, saving some cash and most of all, planning our wedding!

As the sale of our home approaches, we’ve got a lot on our minds: how much we’ve spent, how much we’ll sell for and how quickly it will sell. November-December are usually not the ideal months to sell real estate, but with the new mortgage regulations that have been implemented recently, the dreaded “stress test” now inclusive of properties selling over 1 million dollars effective January 2018, we’re hopeful that buyers will try to purchase their homes before the new year.

We’ve spent a lot on this renovation. It’s common for contractors to “cheap out” to make a quick buck, but we wanted to ensure that we put in the best of the best on the selections we were able to choose. We didn’t want to purchase something that we wouldn’t use ourselves (and let me tell you, I’m a tad high maintenance and have expensive taste!) In the grand scheme of things, when you’re spending over a million dollars on a home, an extra 50k to upgrade your finishes isn’t all that much. We want people to be satisfied with the product they’re investing in.

And likewise, it’s been our decision to use our surplus to help others in need. While we hope our dream home will also be someone else’s dream home, some people don’t have a home at all. That’s why we’ve decided to tithe over 30% of our profit to buy and build homes for those in third-world countries who don’t have a place to lay their heads at night. That’s 4 or more homes to those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. It’s great that we may make a few extra bucks, but what makes it all the more worthwhile is that someone else’s livelihood has benefited from it as well.

I truly believe that God has blessed us to the extent that He has because of our willingness to give. The Bible talks explicitly about tithing and the blessings that come alongside being obedient to Him:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.”

We’ve seen this promise fulfilled in our own lives. Giving has been a gift in and of itself. There is nothing that brings me more joy than helping others through the blessings God has bestowed us with. Sometimes, from the outside looking in, people may think life comes easier this way. But nothing good comes easy. In fact, it comes with many more challenges than I’m sometimes able to handle. It comes with sacrifices. It comes with hardships. It comes with ample responsibility. But it also comes with an unearthly trust in God and our wellbeing. I have never given out of obligation. In fact, I rarely pay attention to the blessing associated with my tithing. What I do know is that God says that it is a good thing. And that for those of you who struggle in giving, whether little or plenty, that God tells you to “test him and see.”

This house has been dedicated to God and our intentions are to honour Him and use it to His glory until it is no longer ours (and hopefully even after). We’ve made it our mission to do business with a purpose – to give back from what we were given, whether it be to the new home owners or individuals who we’ve never met across the world.

We encourage you to also trust God, test God and see how He’ll take care of you when you entrust all that is yours to Him. And we encourage you to give back and help others every opportunity you get – we can all make a difference if we so choose to and we hope we’ve been an inspiration to encourage you to do the same.

 

 

 

 

Slow and Steady

 

It’s been a busy month of finalizing the major details of 21 Millbrook. Our electrical drawings have now been made a reality (who knew the electrician would use our drawings and that us beginners knew so much yet so little about electrical rough-ins all at the same time.) HVAC has been completed and plumbing has been roughed in, all which have passed city inspection. Our basement has been parged both internally and externally to prevent any potential water issues. The small but stubborn roof leak in the master bedroom caused by a single nail hole has now been fixed. Our lead water pipes have now been replaced with copper. Sound-proofing has gone in, insulation has been covered, and drywall is now up! It is slowly but surely looking more like a home each day! Over the next few weeks, there will be even more improvement. Drywall will be taped, tile and flooring will be laid, light fixtures will be put in, our custom kitchen and appliances will be installed and the home will begin to come together – all at once! And so, while we could, we  wrote prayers on the basement floor before the laminate is placed down, dedicating the home to God and asking for His blessings and protection for all who enter within.

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It’s been a slow process, one that has tried our patience many times. I’ve shed tears of frustration, rolled my eyes in annoyance and balled my fists in anger. With many unexpected delays, I’ve tried to control the outcome of the renovation with little success. Some days I’ve wanted to throw in the towel (quite literally…I wish we were at the stage where our appliances were installed!) A project that I thought would be a fun-filled learning experience turn unmanagably overwhelming – I just wanted it to be done and over with. When nothing seemed to be going as planned, I tried to control each and every move to ensure that things got done. Or not…no matter how much I tried to orchestrate change and progress, nothing I did seemed to be working. That is, until I cried out to God and he seemed to turn it all around in a matter of a day.

I’m not sure if I’ve learned the lesson of patience that God’s intended me to learn quite yet, but I’m learning first hand that without Him, nothing is possible. In my own strength, I’m learning I can’t bear the burdens or stresses. I can’t make other people work faster, and I can’t seemingly know everything about something I know nothing about. What I can do is rely on God, His timing and His purpose, and know that He’s got everything covered, even when I don’t understand. Sometimes I find myself making God too small to solve my problems, and placing myself on a pedestal. Maybe He’s using these hiccups in the road to knock me down a notch or two, and prove to me once more that I must depend on Him in all I do.

The completion of the home is fast approaching and there is still much to be done. My prayer is that, despite my past mistakes and my current flaws, I can be a living testament of His name, in my actions and behaviours, and in my attitude and character. I’m not perfect, not by any means. But I pray I can be and will continue to be a witness and blessing to others, somehow. May He continue to build me, hone me, mould me and change me until I’m perfected in Him.