Renovation Series. Our Dining Sunroom.

The thought of a dining sunroom always appealed to me. I remember on a cold wintery day dining at a local restaurant called Le Villa, watching the snow fall all around us in their dining sunroom, it was warm and charming. The windows that surrounded the room let in the twinkles of the holiday lights just enough to watch the snowflakes float down. Sitting there by the warm roaring indoor fire made dining feel so magical.

When we walked into this house I was very excited about the possibility of turning the 11×12 sunroom into an actual addition that would be our dining sunroom. A beautiful space that could recreate that feeling I had at Le Villa. I was determined to make it happen but had to rework our entire budget around it. There were a few things on the renovation budget that had to go in order to make this dream feasible. My husband wasn’t convinced at first but I knew that this room was going to be an important feature of our house. Once he caught on to the vision we were both excited at what this space could be.

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BEFORE – THE DINING SUNROOM PRE RENOVATION
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During the renovation. You can see the vent, we moved this vent into the sunroom. and replaced the ceiling , reinsulated and changed out skylights.

This is why it has taken me so long to share any pictures of my favorite space. To be honest it is STILL a work in progress. Slowly we have been bringing all the pieces we want together. We aren’t totally there just yet but I figured you might be inspired. Also I get a lot of questions about the tile in this room since I’ve posted Picts on insta.

So let’s start at the beginning, just in case you ever get the same idea. Here are some things that you will need to factor in before turning your sunroom into a dining area or building a dining sunroom addition.

  • The direction of the sunroom. Nobody wants to be eating in a room where the sun is beating down on their heads and it’s sweaty and hot! If this is the case you are now having to factor in window treatments, possibly AC and HVAC costs for this. In our case, the yard faces North West. Our yard has sun all day up until about 8 pm during the summer, but the way the sunroom faces, we get to enjoy all the views and the light with no direct sun! Which means I didn’t need to invest in window treatments and could keep skylights. I was happy about this because I didn’t want to cover up the views or take any away.
  • Insulation! We had to completely gut, and basically rebuild this room. Initially, we were going to spray foam the room (we were really worried it would be too cold in winter) but we just reinsulated new and did a really good job of it.
  • considering AC or Heat. You want regulated temperature. Initially, we were concerned about our long cold winters in Calgary. In order to ensure this space was comfortable, we added electric baseboard heaters. We also cored a hole through the cement concrete pad in the sunroom stairs and moved the HVAC this way so that we would have a heat vent in the room. We have since removed, patched and got rid of the baseboard heaters as we didn’t need them at all after we experience winter for the first time in this space. It was very comfortable and warm without those extra heaters and I attribute that mostly to the next point.
  • Because I was insistent on doing beautiful cement tiles we decided to heat the floors. This is something I strongly recommend if you live in a cooler winter climate.  Heated flooring can be done with tiles or engineered hardwood floors. This is something that we can control with a thermostat. Please be aware that it does bump up your energy bills a little.
  • The energy efficiency of the windows. Our house was old but luckily the windows in the sunroom had been updated. Double pane windows can be very expensive and triple pane windows can be even more! The only windows that had to be redone in this room were the old original 1980 skylights. ***TIP*** instead of doing 2 large skylights we did the same size skylights but broken out into 4 – which actually gave the room a more modern feeling at almost half the cost!
  • if it’s going to be a dining sunroom make sure you are close to your kitchen. In our case, its literally leads right into that space which is fabulous for serving and cleaning up. We opened the area entrance up, it was about half the size. This created a very natural and seamless transition into our dining area.
  • Privacy. This is something that was very important to us when looking for our home. We wanted a large and private yard. In our last house, the newer homes are built close together and have zero mature trees, when we were eating and dining we literally could wave at our back neighbors. No thank you. Now we are backing onto our mature yard with lots of trees, birds and furry visitors!

the design and decor for this space are very much inspired by an indoor/outdoor calm but eclectic vibe. We wanted to stay with the theme of the house but I wanted it to feel cozy and different at the same time. We also did not budget for a new dining room table, wr had recently purchased a new table just a couple years back so we decided that we would have to make this one work. I am waiting on two really funky whicker style end chairs that I purchased from Article to arrive. I am very excited about these high back, black and wood colored seats as I feel like they will pull the room together.

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Our lighting changed three times in this room. THREE TIMES! Luckily my husband develops and renovates homes for a living and we could use the lighting in other places. We finally have found something we really love. We purchased thid chandelier from West Elm.

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Greenery. I wanted this space to house lots of natural elements and pull together the Terrazzo Tile from Saltillo Tiles with pretty pots. Our pots are from all different places, garage sales, West Elm, Plant and my mother in law. We even bought a pot to hold some beautiful Aztek south American camp blankets we purchased at a local store here in Calgary. We love the idea of being able to grab a blanket and head right out onto the patio through the slider doors for a fire and marshmallows any time of the year.

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In the end, I am really happy with how the room is coming along. There are still some pieces missing like our end chairs, possibly a small bar cart and some shelving or art. Either way, it’s turning out to be a magical little space, the snowflakes falling all around us this past winter reassured me that we had made the right choice to invest in this room. Breakfast, lunch or supper we all love to entertain, eat and drink here, even this guy….salute!

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Till the next post,

moveplaymom

Female Hair Loss and My Story. Part 2. Postpartum Hair Loss.

PART 2…a couple years in…

Shortly after Ben and I married we both knew we wanted to have kids pretty quick. We didn’t want there to be a huge age gap between Dom and his siblings. So we thought about starting to grow our family. Almost a year and a half after we were married, we were pregnant.  Here is the thing about pregnancy, especially the first time around, you research the crap out of everything and every little step. At least I did!

I was obsessed with wanting to know everything about this tiny bean growing inside of me. I wanted to know all about his development but also about all the changes I was about to go through. So as I read through countless websites, blogs and books, you can imagine my delight when I read how amazing my hair was going to apparently be while pregnant.

Did you know that the changes in your hormones while pregnant will cause your hair to grow longer and to shed less? That’s right. Thicker, fuller,  shiny hair! I AM IN! At this point in my hair loss story, I still didn’t really understand why my hair was so thin or fine. I hadn’t done much research. I was just dealing with it aesthetically as best as I could and living my life.  So when I got pregnant I was super excited, for the first time in 7 years I had a chance at growing great hair. And IT was. My hair was at it’s best ever when I was pregnant with my boys. My hair was full, thick, shiny and healthy.

 

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7 months pregnant with Anthony – GREAT HAIR DAY!

 

 

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4 Months pregnant with Stefano 

 

The reason for my great mane was that my hair was sitting in a longer resting phase. This was huge for me. You will learn why a little later. I was no longer losing as much hair as I normally would. Over those nine months, my hair continued to look fabulous and with all the joy that comes with having a baby, I was the happiest and most confident I had been in a long time. I LOVED being pregnant the first time and the second.

Then it happened. Just as you do when you find out you are pregnant, I was researching everything that would happen to me after baby arrived. Site after site, blog after blog…I was now going to lose my fabulous hair and a lot of it.

I was going to lose my hair and it was going to be awful. All I kept reading on threads and forums were these women posting about how when they were done breastfeeding their hair started to fall out. I didn’t want to believe it. I tried my best to avoid it. I breastfed as long as I could and I took as many vitamins as possible. Nothing helped. Sure enough, my day came.  The first time around, the shed was gradual but significant. So much so that I wore hats out whenever possible or didn’t go out at all.

 

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my widening part 2009

 

About 8 months after Anthony was born I decided to see my doctor about my hair. This would be the first time I go to him to talk about my hair loss. He didn’t seem concerned. He shrugged it off, said all women go through this after they have a baby and that it was normal and it would grow back. I wanted to believe him, I really like my doctor, but I knew he was wrong. This was not coming back. I just had a gut feeling about it. So I left, went home and cuddled my baby boy. Several weeks later, after a long shower and tons of shedding, I called my doctors office and scheduled another visit. I had read on a hair loss group I was following that women with low level of iron stores sometimes suffer hair loss. Also checking their testosterone and thyroid can indicate something related to the hair loss.

This time I went in prepared. I asked to get my testosterone levels, iron and thyroid tested. A couple days later I got the call to come in. I knew it! there was something wrong! When I sat in his chair he said everything looked good except my iron stores were very very low and that this could be the reason for my hair loss. IT was something! I was put on a dosage of iron supplements and was told to wait 2-3 months before any improvements or changes. After three months I got my iron stores tested again. They went up. They were in the healthy range. But my hair had not changed.

 

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2010 The top of my head after a shed

 

I was devastated. My hair was at it’s thinnest. I talked to my hairdresser about options and all he could tell me was to be gentle with my hair, my hair coloring and to try using Nioxin. ugh. Sure….I’ll try it…I remember saying, to be honest, I would have tried anything. Nioxin is a hair care system for thinning hair, it’s expensive when you buy the whole kit and caboodle. At the time, I was not so educated on hair loss and was convinced that there had to be something I could use that would grow my hair back. If it said it could do that, I believed it. So here I was spending tons of money on hair products, serums, leave-in treatments, scalp treatments, scalp massagers…ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. Months and months passed and nothing really changed. My hair was pretty much exactly the same.

So I went to the experts! All I wanted was my scalp not to show when I was standing in the sunlight. That’s all. So I looked into the options of a hair transplant. Oh yes, I did! I was going to do whatever it took to remedy this situation. It was that bad. I did a very good job of coloring my hair, blow drying it daily, using powders and synthetic hair fibers to create the illusion of normal hair…it was exhausting. I cried a lot and I always wondered if someone could tell. So off to a hair restoration clinic I went. Straight to the pros. I was so excited. I figured…no matter what the cost, I am going to just do this. They will be able to help and my hair problems will be solved forever. Except it wasn’t. Turns out, this was probably one of the lowest points in my whole story.

I went from being on cloud nine when I walked into that clinic to wanting to crawl under a rock and never wanting to come out again. When I walked into the office and sat down, I shared my whole story with the doctor. He sat and listened and looked over all the information I had gathered for him. He then performed a test with a special camera and had a very good closeup look of my hair follicles and scalp. He sat back down and broke my heart. I wasn’t a candidate. My donor hairs and the section weren’t good enough. I had what he referred to as diffused female pattern baldness the cause CTE. What I was seeing on the top of my head, essentially was everywhere. My hair is very thin, fine and he strongly believed it was genetic. Deep down inside I knew he was right. Both my parents have great hair…but many of my other family members did not. My little cousin was also losing her hair and wearing a hairpiece, my grandparents had fine thinning hair as early as their thirties and my closest girl cousin suffered a similar fate to mine.

Chronic Telogen Effluvium. Those three words were my diagnosis. CTE. For a long time after this visit. I didn’t believe him. That was nine years ago. He was right. Chronic Telogen Effluvium is defined as this on the Canadian Hair Loss Foundation:

  • CTE is one of a group of disorders known as “hair shedding” conditions
  • Individuals with CTE notice increased daily hair shedding.
  • The amount of hair loss varies from day-to-day.  On some days, over 300 hairs may be lost, whereas, on other days, 40-50 hairs will be lost.
  • Individuals will report excessive hair in their brush, hair falling on clothes, clogged shower drains and plugged vacuums.

In addition to the above, Telogen Effluvium happens in waves. You go through months of shedding periods (3-4 and sometimes up to 6) and then it just stops. The next cycle…you don’t know when it will happen. It’s honestly the worst. Just when you think your hair is looking amazing, and is full and long, the shed starts and it’s bad. really really bad.

I left the clinic defeated. He offered me the option to try Rogaine. ROGAINE?! Was this really happening to me? I was 29 and too young to be dealing with hair loss. It wasn’t fair. I looked into Rogaine and there was no way, no chance, I was putting those chemicals on my head.

So I went on with my life. I became obsessed and examined everyone’s hair around me. As they would sit there across for me, I would wander into a daze trying to see if their hair resembled mine. Did they have thin hair too? were they suffering in silence? I just wanted to find someone that was going through the same thing.

When we got pregnant again I was so happy. Happy to be pregnant of course! and when I was pregnant that meant that the shedding phase would stop altogether! I reveled in the nine months of good hair. After Stefano was born I was determined to get the breastfeeding thing under control and to breastfeed as long as I could so I could hold onto my hair just a little longer. However as life would have it, Stefano was severely allergic to dairy at just 3 days old and I had to switch him onto a special formula. I figured that once my hormones caught on, my hair would fall out immediately….but that didn’t happen. 2…3…4…5 months went by and my hair didn’t shed. I was convinced that the pregnancy reversed my CTE. convinced.

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June 2012. We were staying at our condo in Phoenix, Arizona. The boys were getting ready to head out for dinner and I had just jumped out of the shower. This day still haunts me. I noticed during my shower that my hair was shedding a bit, but nothing excessive. They said 100 hairs a day was normal. As I got dressed, the sunset pouring through the windows, I put on some makeup and started to blow dry my hair. Beautiful day…you know when you look into a beam of sunlight and you can see the tiniest dust particles floating around….ya, beautiful. Everything seems to stop in time in those moments. So still and slow and warm. I can still see that moment, feel it. I remember brushing my hair out and slowly drying my hair, trying my hardest to be gentle…and looking into the beam of light. Suddenly all I could see were hairs; long, shiny strands of blond hair floating around gracefully like feathers. I stopped my dryer. Looked down and there it was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 months of beautiful hair falling out. It was as if my body said, ok it’s time. Fall. and it did. I froze.

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Ben came rushing through the door when he heard me crying. I had gathered all the hair. I know, gross. My brush was also full. He picked it up and flushed it. He knew. He understood. He told me to get through this trip and that when we got back home we would look at other available options for my hair. His reassurance once again gave me the strength and hope I needed to get up, throw on a hat and be me. Hair or no hair. This was the start of when my hair story turned around. I no longer was going to hide, be shy about it or embarrassed. My hair didn’t define me and I wasn’t going to let it get the best of me. I knew what I needed to do…and I was excited to get home and start on my new journey to a healthy relationship with my head of hair.

To be continued…

Till the next post,

moveplaymom.

 

 

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Renovation Series. The Exterior is Almost Done!

Well well, I never thought this day would come. It’s been quite the journey with this exterior. We were really undecided on what to do and how to approach the whole project! First off we live in a very mature community and most of the homes around us are still occupied by their OG owners. We are talking 40-50 years here.

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Major changes ahead for this oldie

So you can imagine that most homes still have a very…hmmm…OG feel to it. I will leave it at that. Our home is so unique in its architecture and design. It feels like it was so ahead of its time. Very square, geometrical and linear feel to it. All the sleek lines, big windows and the grand entrance was being hidden behind the overgrowth of plants and camouflaged by the weird monotone green color scheme that just blended in with all those shrubs and trees.

We also wanted to ensure that we somewhat kept with the vibe of the community. At first. Deep down inside I didn’t want to paint the existing cedar or do the more traditional looking James Hardie board. It was a discussion we kept flip-flopping on over and over. Do we go with an Arts and Crafts look and/or do we stay more traditional on the outdoors in order to complement the hood’? or do we follow our gut and do something totally different.

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This was an ongoing discussion but part of me kept coming right back to what I really wanted. I wanted the outside of my house to match the modern west coast feel of the inside. I wanted to stucco my house. I wanted a sleek acrylic white stucco with black accents. From the get-go that was all that I could see in my mind. So many of our friends and family would hum and haw over our decision…questioning us and taking a long time to really answer us when we asked. In return, I would question myself and Ben…A LOT. To the point where even once the paper wire went on, I still worried that we were making the wrong decision and halted the project for 3 weeks!

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If you notice in the original images our windows were white. During our reno, we didn’t need to replace all the windows as some had been recently replaced. Lucky us? ya not really! Once I decided on white stucco, in my mind I had imagined my windows were black…but they weren’t! WHAT A MAJOR OVERSIGHT! I guess at the start of the project we were thinking of doing a light grey Hardie board…so windows didn’t matter at that point but once the paper wire went up and the black soffits and fascias, I stood there once again second guessing our stucco color choice and stucco altogether! White stucco on white windows? I just wasn’t sure that that was the look we were really going for.

This led to our next big challenge. We needed to make those windows black but stay on budget. After hours upon hours of research Ben and I came across a great company that warranties their work for 15 years! Dave (Owner) at Spray-Net Calgary was amazing to work with. We had a great experience. His crew was quick and clean. They actually came back 2x for touch ups! They were super reasonable and incredibly careful when they did the touch ups the second time AFTER the white stucco went up. We were so happy with the results and it didn’t break the bank. I was sooooooo worried before they started and concerned they would ruin the windows, the paint could peel, that it would look cheap? BUT NO NO NO! It’s incredible, no peeling and I can’t foresee it peeling, their product is amazing. They sprayed the outside frames and the screens. The house finally started to look like the vision we had! The white stucco idea was back!

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Our stucco crew was also incredible. If you live in the Calgary area and are looking to do a stucco job on your home, send me a message and I will get you their contact information. Their pricing was unbeatable and they did such an impeccable job. I asked from some big requests, like our garage door return, I didn’t want to have any weird wood return or smart board trim. I wanted a clean stucco return! not an easy feat to create clean straight lines but they did it and I love it. From start to finish they were very professional and clean! Before leaving any step of the way (paper wire, cement, stucco) they would clean up and leave no trace of debris or mess. We also went with a simple, modern black garage door.

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The roof was a light grey when we bought the house and was poorly installed about 10 years ago, so we replaced the roof, got rid of some old venting and added proper venting where needed. I went with a black roof, which was another risky move because the roof is very dominant when you look at the home. I think with the bright white stucco it created just the right balance! Phew!

The overhang was also replaced with a beautiful cedar wood accent and this creates a warmer feeling when you walk up to the home. We are currently on the hunt for an outdoor pendant light to hang above the door. At each peak and corner of the home, we did add outdoor pot lighting. This totally lit the house up at night. In addition to adding lighting (there was none! the house looked scary at night and very dark), We also added a railing to the stairs and cement pad. This really inexpensive feature (I’m talking $400!) was exactly what the stairs and front of the house needed. It seemed a little boring and bare but as soon as the glass railing with black caping went up…it just seemed to pull the front together.

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Now let’s not forget about the forest growing in front of the house. I want to address the gigantic cedar ball that was 9 feet high and 6 feet wide! That thing had a crazy life and I didn’t really want it to end. Do you know HOW HARD it is to grow a cedar in Calgary?! but I wanted it gone from the front. It was taking up precious space, for my chair where I could watch the boys play out front and of course, creep on what’s going on in the cul de sac. (lol I am just being honest!)

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So we had an arborist come to see the cedar and luckily he was confident we could move it to a new spot in the yard. So we did. Yay cedar, let’s hope you get another 40 years! Ben and I worked tirelessly and landscaped the entire front of our home on our own. We worked on taking out over 7 wheelbarrows of old plants and dirt, adding new sod, buying new plants, etching out the new space, planting and finally mulching with natural cedar chips. The end result was clean. balanced and much more modern and in line with our home exterior.

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So are we done? haha, for those who know me? are we ever really done? The backyard is a whole other beast and is something we will begin to work on this summer (I will share as we go) I am also trying my hardest to convince Ben that we need a pool (it’s not working) but at this point in the project I am so happy with the everything, the whole journey, this was the perfect envelope for our beautiful home. We couldn’t be more excited about how it all turned out and I am so happy we get to share it with you.

Till the next post,

moveplaymom