When A Wise Man Speaks

As many of you are well aware of, or perhaps are yet to find out, being a part of a renovation has its rewards and pitfalls. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing something you’ve created come to fruition. Every wall, every thought process that ended up actually making sense or working out, every finish choice, every colour…yes, it’s exhilarating and motivating indeed. It’s the process of getting there that’s tedious, taxing and downright difficult to say the least. Renovations are never a smooth, start-to-finish process. There’s been a lot of sweat and fears so far (yes, I meant fears). Okay, I’ll admit it. The occasional tear here and there too. It’s tested my patience like never before, and it’s tested Aaron’s and my relationship in new ways.

When you’re starting a life with someone, there’s a lot to learn and there’s a lot to adjust to. This renovation has definitely helped us to learn how to work together and how not to step on each other’s toes (steel toes, that is). We’ve been learning how to handle moments of high stress together and how to balance time, our relationship, our jobs and everything else that we have to do. We’ve learned a lot more about one another and, even though it’s been a difficult ride thus far, I’m learning to love him more with every passing day. There’s nothing better than taking on a major work project to test your relationship. Whether it’s your work styles or ethic, your communication skills with one another or your attitudes towards each other, it’ll begin to point out flaws within yourself you never even knew you had. Aaron and I have been discovering the nitty-gritty parts of each other, and it’s had its challenges, like every relationship does. What’s important, though, is that we’ve been working towards embracing those challenges. Aaron likes to call them “growing pains.” We’ve experienced both the highs and lows and, as a team, we’re plugging our way through them. When one method doesn’t work, we try another, until we can hurdle ourselves over the obstacles that life throws at us.

I’ll be honest with you. Our renovation is much too much behind schedule. Our kitchen should have been installed by this point, yet the rough-ins haven’t even been put in yet. This isn’t uncommon in the renovation business, but it is quite frustrating. When the work isn’t being completed as quickly as I’d like it to, I’ve had no choice but to rely on God and His timing, hoping and praying that it will all work out to my benefit and His glory when all is said and done. And, if the delays weren’t bad enough, we’ve already been reported to the city about putting a balcony off of our back bedroom, and I don’t see it stopping there. It’s been one thing after another. It’s been hard not to want to be spiteful. You know, be a little bit noisier than we have to be. Be a little more cut-throat in our communications.  But it’s not the right thing to do. And I’ve had no choice but to try to continue to be patient and act like the Christian I claim to be when things aren’t going my way (and let me tell you, it’s been a struggle and Aaron’s had to handle to remnants of aggravations that I can’t seem to contain!) Actually, let me rephrase that. I suppose I have had a choice. We all have a choice in our behaviour. Perhaps I’ve come to the conclusion that, if I wanted to use this house to glorify God from the beginning, I better not stop now.

A wise man once told me (aka my pops) “if you’ve learnt nothing else than how to do it, then you’ve done well.” Our first time around at this may not be perfect. It may not look perfect, or have been completed as effectively and efficiently as I’d imagined.  But that’s okay. I’m learning new things every day, about myself, about my partner, and about something I’ve always been interested in but had limited knowledge about. Even when I’m discouraged in the moment, and vent to Aaron about how much I want to quit and how I’m never doing this again (I’m like a chippy Chihuahua – I make a lot of noise, but eventually will put my tail between my legs and settle down), the truth is, I won’t let it discourage me in the long-run. Now I know how much I can handle and how much adversity I can overcome. Now we know what to do, and what not to do. We’re learning how to do a lot of things, and hopefully next time is a bit more successful than the first. Processes take time, and practice makes perfect. Learn by trial and error, and take each mistake that you make and use it to your benefit, by seeing what works and what doesn’t, or maybe by never doing it again.

That wise man also told me something else. He said, “Serjenka, this is urgent, but it’s not important.” My life has been consumed by this project. I talk about it 24/7. I think about each and every detail all day long. I blog about it. I even dream about it. I’ve been having a real struggle balancing everything, especially the things that really matter. But it’s not important. Yes, it’s pressing. Yes, it needs to get done. But it’s not everything. It’s temporal and it won’t last.

My sister came up with a system for me to rate my life with. It consists of 4 categories:

  • Important and Urgent
  • Important, Not Urgent
  • Urgent, Not Important
  • Not Important Or Urgent

If you’re having struggles balancing your time, I highly suggest you take a half hour to really contemplate the items on your plate and to put them into these categories. I sadly found out that I believed (key word is believed) everything in my life was of dire importance in some shape or form. How do you learn to balance time when you think everything that you’re doing is needs to get done…RIGHT now? When I put it all on paper – my job, my relationships, my renovation, my day-to-day duties, to name a few – it was overwhelming just looking at it. But the world wouldn’t end if I actually didn’t clean that day. Or if I told a friend I actually didn’t have time to meet up for coffee. Or if my blog post was published on a Friday instead of a Tuesday. I’ve been adjusting to placing things in their appropriate spot, and it’s been difficult, let me tell you! Maybe you’ll need to do this checklist every day to keep yourself in check. Life will always be busy. Learning to deal with it and how to behave within it is where you’ll find the peace you’re actually looking for.

But hey, I’m the preacher preaching to the choir (is that the saying, I always wondered what it actually said). Who am I to say anything, but to share a bit of my own story with you.

Want to keep up to date on our renovation? Stay tuned!

Choosing Lighting For Your Home

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can see the light.” After much waiting and anticipation, our contractor has informed us that the workers will begin to put the rough-ins for electrical and plumbing this week.

This means that all vanities and lighting have to selected by today! Aaron and I spent the last week searching for and purchasing our light fixtures in our spare time. We’ve just completed a rough-in legend to detail the location of all plumbing and electrical for our contractor. This included lighting, from the where to the what! Through our scavenger hunt for fixtures, we’ve learned a little about the different types of lighting and how they work.


  1. Ceiling fixtures: great for bedrooms, dining rooms or even utility rooms. Always keep the refraction of the light in mind. Fixtures with enclosed bases are more likely to provide less light than those without.
  2. Pendant/recess lighting: great for breakfast bars or even unconventional bathrooms. Decide whether the area is suited for downward illumination or if it is more important to have a central source of lighting that provides additional brightness. Have two pendants at 50 watts? Keep in mind that’s a wattage of 100! Also take note if the height of the pendants are adjustable, or ensure that they are placed over the breakfast bar or vanity to avoid interference in walking spaces.
  3. Bath bar lighting: great for above the vanity mirror. Ensure the light source is pointing downwards to have the mirror reflect the light to maximize brightness in the room or choose a light that illuminates outwards rather than downwards.
  4. Wall-mounted fixtures: great for bathrooms or even bedrooms above side tables. Again, should this be the main light source, purchase a light that is not task-oriented.
  5. Chandeliers: great for dining rooms, hallways, foyers or master bedrooms. Always ensure that the light height is adjustable or accommodates for the height of your ceiling.
  6. Outdoor lighting: consider what type of outdoor lighting you need. Do you need wall-mounted lights, motion-sensored lighting or spot lights? Do you want the illumination to travel down the wall for special effect, or do you prefer to have the area well-lit?

We put a lot of thought into our lighting selections. Whether it be considering the exterior finish (for example, we wouldn’t want a brushed nickel light fixture and polished chrome faucet!), or trying to determine how to coordinate all rooms while keeping each unique, or figuring out how to balance transitional, rustic and modern fixtures all in one home, there’s a lot to think about!

Because our home has exposed brick on the main floor, we decided to use uber modern lighting on the first floor to compensate for the rustic appearance of the walls. However, we decided to use more abstract/rustic fixtures on the second floor to coordinate with downstairs since there is little exposed brick on the upper level.

We stayed away from warm lighting and used bright, white LED lights, not only for economic efficiency, but to ensure that the lighting was radiant in a home with fewer windows than I’d like (it’s a semi!) We learnt that the color of lighting plays a large part in the atmosphere of a home. Cool lighting often has a more contemporary appearance than warm lighting.  We were weary not to create an industrial ambience based on lighting design or even bulb choice (we stayed far away from Edison bulbs!)

Curious to see our lighting selections? Follow us on Instagram or keep up to date with our blog as we continue to post our progression or shoot us a message to pick our brains. Only one month until completion!

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 
Matthew 5:16

Digging Deep

Today I passed by our house on my way in to work. There was a single worker there this morning. I had no clue what he was working on. It crossed my mind that he wouldn’t be able to achieve much on his own for a renovation that’s scheduled to be completed in a month’s time. I did, however, notice the workers finally put stairs leading down to the basement the previous day. Finally, I could go down to see if they’d begun to fix’er up. It’s a bit creepy walking down there. Unlike the rest of the house, it’s dark and dingy, with little work completed on it and a few flies buzzing loudly and flittering around. It’s an old basement, over 100 years old in fact. The foundation, cracked and fractured, has been there for a long, long time. When we’d purchased the property, the previous owner had told us that he thought it would be easier to sell than renovate it on his own. We will now be digging down the basement, trying to heighten the ceiling as much as possible without having to underpin.

Again, on my way home from work, I decided to stop by to see today’s progress with my boss. The entire basement floor was stripped, the concrete pulled up and the dirt beneath exposed. Just like that. 100 years of support, gone in an instant.

It made me dig a little deeper myself – into my thoughts, that is. One second things are one way, the next, another. Seeing that one worker there this morning, I never assumed much would get done today. How unexpected. How quickly things change.

I’ll be transparent with you guys. Today I also went to my first counselling session in a long time. The truth is, I never “believed” in counselling. I’ve been to a few sessions here and there, with little luck and much discouragement. But I’ve been dealing with some stuff. And, in all honesty, I have the habit of pushing things down and covering them up and never having to deal with them. Some of it’s been left undealt with for years. I haven’t had to address the mess and grime that lays underneath the surface. Like the previous owner of my house, it seems easier to pick up and move on from something that’s overwhelming. It’s daunting, having to face something that needs a good reno, but having no experience on how to repair things or even a clue how or where to start. So instead of fixing myself, I’ve been on the run. But, unlike my home, someone else isn’t going to come along and fix me. And time doesn’t heal unless you’ve confronted the past you’re running from.

Things are about to change drastically. Today I decided that it was time that I be stripped, my disintegrating base yanked up, and my mess in its entirety exposed. Just like that.

We all have skeletons in our closets. Some of them are emotional, some physical, some psychological. From experience, I’ll go ahead and say sometimes it seems that it’s easier to leave a foundation fragmented than to fix the entire structure. I mean, common. Fixing it? It’s time consuming. It’s exhausting. It’s costly. It’s dark, and it’s messy and all the while annoying. But it’s progress. Sometimes we need to be ripped apart to be built up again.

The Bible talks about the importance of strong foundations:

“He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built” Luke 6:48.

It is critical for us to ensure that our foundations are strong, built on rock rather than degrading sand. This way, when trials or hardships come our way, we are equipped to endure them and can stand strong in times of adversity. Whether it’s our relationships, our emotional wellbeing or our character, we must be the best versions of ourselves and we must make the effort and put in the work in order to become just that.

I know, after all is said and done, the basement will be dug up, a new, stronger foundation will be poured and the structural integrity of our home will be enhanced. Likewise, I know after I dig deep within myself to rip away the hardness that coats my surface, I will also be able to begin to build a stronger, better me, and I will be all the better for it.

It doesn’t matter what my issues are. It doesn’t matter what yours are. What matters is that we take the necessary steps to support the weight of the load that is life. What are you going to do about your baggage? I’d suggest you join me in doing whatever it takes to get rid of it. It’s worth your investment, both financially and emotionally, and you are never alone. God is always with you. He is the cement that will help put you back together, that will strengthen you and that will cover all the dirt underneath with love and forgiveness. And I’m here for you. Want to shoot me a message? Feel free to go to our “contacts” page and leave us a note! We’re just an email away.




12 Steps On How To Plan Your Reno

When Aaron and I decided that we wanted to be heavily involved in the process of renovating our home, I personally never thought it would be so time consuming. After all, I wasn’t planning on doing any hard labour myself. Now that they’ve begun framing, there’s so many details to consider and bargains to hunt for. Being our first time, we had no idea how much things should cost or when things needed to be ready by.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you along the way, and some things you should think about to prepare to have your renovations completed within a reasonable time frame.

  • Step 1 – Drawings: drawings must be prepared prior to the demolition of your home in order for a work permit to be issued. Ensure that you’ve thought about the practicality of your desired floor plan and work out as many potential kinks as you can prior to submitting your drawings to the city.
  • Step 2 – Demolition: by this time, you should be looking and researching different suppliers to purchase items from for your home. See if your contractor has an account with any suppliers if you are ordering the items yourselves – they are usually highly discounted if they have an account is set up with the supplier.
  • Step 3 – Subflooring/Framing: this would be a good time to start looking into kitchen designs and deciding where you wish to have your electrical run. Soon enough, the drywall will be up, and the rough-ins for mechanical and electrical will be put in. Where do you wish to have your power outlets placed? Will your bathroom have over-the-mirror lighting, pendant lighting or ceiling lighting? Will your vanities have one or two sinks, or will they be stand-alone or floating? Will this require one or two light fixtures? Will you have a gas stove, or electric? Do you want hanging pendants over that breakfast bar, and/or a chandelier in the dining area? What kind of showerhead do you want? So many of these decisions must be made prior to the rough-ins being put in. Come up with a plan that you love and consider all the little details that it entails.
  • Step 4 – Mechanical/Electrical/Insulation: by this time, you should be ordering tiles and flooring, choosing your kitchen designer and deciding on a more definite layout for your kitchen space. Take into consideration if any of your orders are special orders or if they’ll be available upon ordering. If your orders are special order, make sure you calculate the amount of time in which it will take to come in.
  • Step 5 – Drywall: have your kitchen designer ready to go to do final measurements once the drywall is up. Tape the kitchen layout out with painter’s tape and see how it will look realistically in the space. Custom kitchens can take anywhere from 3-10 weeks to be made and delivered. Always keep your time frame in mind when selecting a provider as well as a style.
  • Step 6 – Tiles/Flooring: the house is finally coming together, and the vision is starting to develop. There are numerous things to consider when tiling and laying your floors. Have you chosen your grout color? Would you prefer your tiles to be laid staggered, aligned or even herringboned? Would you prefer 12 x 12 tiles, 12 x 24 tiles, or a mosaic? What about polished or matte? Will the polished go on the floor to create a more rich look, or rather on the shower walls to prevent a slippery floor? Will you be tiling the shower ceiling and the tub encasement? Did you want a shampoo nook in the shower stall? All of these questions impact the quantity of items to order and will play an integral part in the style of your home. This would also be a good time to ensure that any faucets are ordered and that plumbing is ready to be hooked up when the vanities are delivered.
  • Step 7 – Vanities: the final touches are now beginning to be placed. Now is the time to begin thinking of things such as paint colours, or wallpaper patterns. While there’s lots of great options to choose from, ensure that you stick to your original style to nicely coordinate your home.
  • Step 8 – Painting: time to start purchasing mirrors. While mirror sizes should be considered much earlier on in your renovation process (because often times the sizes of your mirrors directly correlates to your lighting selections), now is the time to buy if you haven’t already. Do you want circular mirrors, wall-to-wall mirrors or mirrors with frames? Will you be mounting your mirrors with plastic clips, spring loaded clips, fixed mirror clips or tape and glue?
  • Step 9 – Light Fixtures/Faucets: everything should be coming together nicely! Do your faucets and light fixtures coordinate with one another? Is your breakfast bar pendants polar opposite than your dining room fixtures in an open concept home? Make sure your selections are consistent within your rooms unless it’s to make a statement! Don’t mix polished chrome and brushed nickel together. These are little details that can make or break a room.
  • Step 10 – Exterior Work: are you re-facing your home or replacing siding? Ensure that the colors of your windows and doors will match with your selection. Are you having your roof replaced? Be mindful of the colour you choose for your shingles.
  • Step 11 – Doors and Windows: it would be a good time to buy other outdoor items you may need, such as your mailbox, house number or doorbell, again, always ensuring that they are consistent with the style of the exterior of the home.
  • Step 12 – Landscaping: when selling, this is often as important as the interior of your home! Have you ever heard of “curb appeal?” A buyer’s first impression is the outside of a home and this can often make or break a potential sale. In fact, if your exterior isn’t attractive, some buyers may not want to even look inside!Not planning on selling anytime soon? Choose a landscape design that fits your outdoor needs. Do you like to entertain? Think of having built-in seating and a gas line for your BBQ. Do you hate upkeeping your yard? Think of removing the grass and using interlocking stone instead with low maintenance shrubbery. Have young children? Maybe decks with multiple levels isn’t the most practical route to go. Want a built-in fire pit? Check the by-laws before buying. Hate the city noise? Think of putting a water fountain to mask it. Ask for a professional opinion and research ideas that you can mix-and-match to make the perfect outdoor space for you.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10