Week 8 – Renovation Series


This is the week that everything changes. There is still A LOT of small details that make this house unique and special to us that hasn’t been completed yet BUT this is the weekend we move in. I can’t believe it…we totally did it.

Two months ago Ben and I took possession of our new home. The house had been somewhat poorly updated over the years since the 70’s, but for the most part, it still needed a lot of love. As we tore down walls and ripped out cabinets we uncovered that we had a lot more ahead of us than we had thought. Fortunately, we weren’t new to the business of home renovations and had suspected that we might have a few surprises.

We planned for the craziness!

Before we got the keys, we requested 3 walkthroughs which gave us a lot of opportunities to measure, create floor plans, bring in an engineer to get feedback and plan plan plan. This is something I would highly recommend you ask your realtor to request when buying a home you plan to renovate or flip.

As soon as possession day came we were ready to tackle this monster project all while still running our own day to day business operations, managing our family and the start of a new school year.

On this renovation, Ben and I worked together as the general contractors managing it all. We brought together a team of trades that worked endless hours, weekends and nights, to meet our official deadline of November 15th, 2017. On this day the house needed to be move-in ready.

Today is November 15th. Tomorrow night, I have some friends ready to help build some furniture. The house will be cleaned Friday and this weekend we will officially move into our new home. A home that works for us, has functional space, a fantastic layout, lots of intention and thoughtful design elements. A simple home.

I am so excited to share all of this with you in the days ahead!

To say I am excited is an understatement. We did it.

till the next post,


If you are interested I can provide you with a list of local trades we used and their contact information for those looking to tackle a project in the Calgary area. For a detailed list, you can email me at dinaottoni@gmail.com




Week 7 – Renovation Series

I cannot believe today marks 7 weeks.

This week was certainly the calm before the storm! We had the painters in spraying all the doors, trim and casings; and rolling the first couple of coats of paint. We ended the week with our finisher building us some custom reach-in closets, the tilers got started by installing the in-floor heating around the house


and my favorite part of all ….OUR FRONT DOOR WENT IN!!!!

NOW…This week coming up it gets very real! Tile starts tomorrow, countertops go in Tuesday, hardwood starts Wednesday. I am totally seeing the house come together and it’s exciting and stressful all at the same time. Hoping I made the right decisions and good choices to pull my vision together.

So many people mentioned that considering how much we got going on, I seem so relaxed and easy going about it all. The truth is…it’s not always easy! This week, in particular, proved to be really challenging mentally and it showed physically.

Mentally I was exhausted, my little guy suffers from Periodic Fever Syndrome, maybe you have heard about it and maybe not, but generally what happens, without getting into any crazy details, he gets a crazy high fever (like 104 -105) for 4 days straight. He is tired and his legs hurt. He suffers through the night the most as I try to stay on top of his Advil and Tylenol. At night he spikes and is super hot, really thirsty,  very sore and we are both tired!  The Periodic part means it happens almost consistently to the day every 8 weeks. It used to be every 6, prior to that every 4. We have been to specialists, we are seeing a rheumatologist, he is seeing an amazing pediatrician and we are searching for more answers. As it stands it seems like he is outgrowing them (as they become further apart…that’s a good sign!)  As a parent…I stress every time he goes through it. I cry. I worry. I wonder. I worry some more. I get little sleep, I google like a mad woman and my mental state suffers a little. I have learned over time that during this time, I need to find some time for myself. typically once the fever settles I try to get out, walk, coffee, friends, etc.

So yes…it’s not always amazing and perfect…My face also broke out into some crazy weird rash! I am not superficial by any means but seriously my face was BRUTAL! I had these crazy insane bumps all over my face and dry patches everywhere. I was less embarrassed about how it looked and more concerned with how dry and itchy it was. I went to see my face lady and she got me on a great cleanser by Eminence (AMAZING!) and I followed that with Egyptian Magic (Also AMAZING) and my face is so much better! phew!

On top of all that it was Halloween and Calgary got their first serious taste of winter!

A power ranger, a scary clown, and mom as a deer for Halloween night.

So while all this was going on we, of course, ran into some renovation bumps in the road. Actually, it was more like a full halt, not trespassing, you are not going over that bump, kind of bump on the road. We had plans to gut the master shower (it has travertine tile) and had made the decision a couple weeks back. We both felt, at the time, that we could make it work with our budget. However, things don’t always work out the way you want during a reno. I also have a pretty strict budget that I refuse to go over!

So when we found out the final price to renovate the shower…it was a no go. I was bummed. Every square inch of this house is being totally redone except that shower.  We are going to have to work around that master shower and try to make it as pretty as possible and hopefully, in the future (less distant future and more closer) we will renovate that. I promised I wouldnt go over budget. I can live with the travertine. I can. lol. I will.

So as we head into week 8, the most critical week of all. I am hoping things go a little smoother. I feel like I got some good rest this weekend, got some time to myself and with friends. I am ready to tackle the busiest week of all! Wishing you all a wonderful start to your week!

till the next post,



Week 6 – Renovation Series

Since our last post so much has happened and I am so excited to share! It has been an incredible journey. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to basically rebuild and design our own little abode.

Our design and renovation story dates back several months. Before we even bought the house we had tossed around the idea of what our own home build could look like. Before we could get there, there were some important things that needed to be checked off on our want list…tall ceilings, lots of natural light, functional layout, usable space, a large lot, on a cul-de-sac with a lot of trees. We waited and we found exactly what we were looking for but it needed a lot of love. We were up for the challenge because rarely does an old house with this much potential come up for sale.

The view from the master bedroom patio. This is half our yard!


Week five and six brought a lot of the design elements that I put down on paper to life! We saw the new indoor doors get installed and all the casings. Along with the doors was the replacement of several windows. For our inside doors, we chose to go with the MADISON Style, essentially one large shaker style. Again trying to keep things very simple.  All doors were standards except for the bedroom doors. We chose solid core doors for all the bedroom doors to add an extra layer of soundproofing. As for our baseboards and casings, we went with a simple flat look, 3-inch casing and 5-inch baseboards.

The kitchen got installed this week! I think this was the most exciting part of this whole process. The kitchen is such an important part of our culture. Our families are both Italians. Food is at the core of everything we do. We live to eat and eat to live. A kitchen is a vibrant place and the center of the home in Italian families. I wanted to carry that on in our home but I wanted it to be a space that was simple, clean yet still warm and inviting.

We decided to work with a local kitchen company that my husband had worked with on his previous renovations, True Kitchens. Ron and Tim (owners) did an amazing job! They put up with me first of all and after several design sessions, phone calls, text messages, and meetings, we narrowed it down to exactly what Ben and I wanted. As it came together this week in real life…I was so stunned that it literally brought me to tears. It’s exactly how I imagined it would be. My favorite part is our 11 foot, 11.5 when countertop goes in, island. I am so in love. I know I post in black and white. I promise to share color pictures on the full reveal but for those of you wondering our Kitchen is Oxford White, Benjamin Moore.

As the kitchen came together this week in real life, I was so stunned that it literally brought me to tears. It’s exactly how I imagined it would be. My favorite part is our 11 foot, 11.5 when countertop goes in, island. I am so in love. I know I post in black and white. I promise to share color pictures on the full reveal but for those of you wondering our kitchen colour is Oxford White, Benjamin Moore.


We also primed the entire house this week. Next, on the list is getting some more custom built-in cabinets completed. Painters get in this week as well to start spraying all doors, casings and get the first two coats of paint on. The tile guys get in later this week as well. I am looking forward to seeing the tile go down or up….. If you follow my Instagram you would know how excited I am about some of the printed cement tiles we chose for some special places in our home. In addition to that, we are also doing some cool tile in the bathrooms, the entrance, and backsplashes. I will share more of those details next week!

They said it couldn’t be done in 2 months. so far so good!


till the next post,


Week 4

move. part 2.

I cannot believe we are heading into the weekend…and the ending of week 4. It is truly amazing how much the hubby and I were able to organize and accomplish in the past 4 weeks. For those of you just tuning in, we took possession of our property on September 15th, 2017. On Sunday this week we celebrate one month into a massive renovation.

When we bought this house back in July, we listed our house and it sold right away with a 30-day possession. This meant that we needed to be out of the house by mid-August.

At this point, we had decided to quickly sell or donate about 80% of all our belongings. I had a very short time period to try and find my family an interim furnished abode. A place to call home. A temporary casa. A place that would allow our family to rent short term. A place that would allow a small dog and three boys. Somewhere that wasn’t insanely expensive because I didn’t want to have the extra burden of crazy carrying costs.

You would be amazed at how very few places allow pets…or how few rentals accepted three children. So now, not only were we faced with this challenge but we also needed to stay close to our current neighborhood for the kid’s schools and my work.

After very few options we ended up in a cute 1100 square foot condo that is pet-friendly, kid-friendly, furnished and a decent price (includes all utilities and internet/cable).

It has now been 2 months in our smaller rental house. 5 people and a dog. Each of us occupying approximately 183 square feet each. Tight is an understatement at this point. Myself, sharing a wonderful full size, I repeat, FULL-SIZE bed with my gigantic 6 foot 4 husband. It’s been eye-opening. I want to be clear. We appreciate having a roof over our head and I appreciate our space but as a family of 6 I am looking forward to more, not much more, but more space. Also, the layout isn’t ideal. My three boys are sharing a bedroom. They are 15, 9 and 5. You probably could guess that our 15-year-old is thrilled about this.

Because of the current living arrangement we are so careful about what comes into this house. NO MORE CLUTTER. No space for useless things.

This brings me back to our deadline. November 15th, 2017. The landlord of our rental could only guarantee us 3 months as she had found a long-term renter for the end of November.  From the possession day to move in gives us exactly 2 months time. 2 months to turn our 1979 character home into a beautiful modern and simple space. Our home. 2 months, 8 weeks.

So here we are, 4 weeks in. The halfway point. It seemed impossible at first, daunting really, to think about all we had ahead of us. Here is what we have done so far

  • We had to completely gut, take down walls and bring in a structural engineer
  • remove more walls, add new beams, add new joists
  • remove all subfloor
  • remove more walls due to moisture and mold
  • remove new found 1979 glued down linoleum floors
  • demo the house almost to all the studs
  • remove all tile work
  • gut all bathrooms
  • reframe master room, master bath, Anthony’s room
  • change out leaky skylights
  • replace 4 major windows
  • Remove a kitchen window and reframe and board
  • Move an existing new (LARGE) window 6 inches…6 INCHES!
  • move corner fireplace in the playroom and reframe
  • core new holes in cement for venting and move several ducts
  • add 40 new pot lights, 6 ceiling speakers and Electricians updated all wiring in the house
  • plumber upgraded plumbing, moved toilets, added gas lines
  • The list went on.


Here are some pictures of 4 weeks ago and the progress we’ve made since!

The sunroom area has been completed gutted, reinsulated, new drywall, new heat vents, new subfloor, new skylights and will become our dining area now that it is super cozy and very warm!

The main entrance, we closed up that dust collecting space above the closet, we made the closet doors 96 inches high for a more grand look.

The future kitchen area

The future wet bar area and pot lights we added in front

Kids Playroom had a corner fireplace, we fixed that. Corner fireplaces…the worst!

I cannot believe how far we have come in so little time! Everyone is working so hard on this project. The team on this job have been incredible.

Almost done drywall. We are also getting rid of all the textured ceilings and going with flat ceilings throughout the house. Something that is a rarity here in Calgary. We wrap this part up in about 3 days. Next, the finisher comes in to install all new doors, trim and window casings. Kitchen arrives next week as well. and we start on a few coats of paint. PAINT!!!!!!!!


I also have a few other fun surprises happening with the design piece but I will wait to share when the time comes. Which should be fairly soon at our pace!

4 weeks to go and we get to step into our forever home. I am getting really excited to see our vision come together. I am so glad to have you join us on our journey!

till the next post,


(If you are living in the Calgary area, are doing some reno’s and are interested in learning more about the awesome trades we had working with us, let me know)