The Resurrection – breathing new life into our family home.

One of my dearest and most dependable of suppliers coined this renovation of ours as “the resurrection” – and I’m not sure if it was a typo or intentional – but it is a very fitting title to this project: this home that I’ve loved my whole life was on its last legs and we are renovating it (read: pouring our hearts and souls and every penny we have – and don’t have  – into it…!!!) to make sure it continues to be our family home for decades to come.


Photo of our house shortly after my parents bought it in the ’70’s

My partner and my mother and I are renovating the house I grew up in so that we can all live in it together – Italian style ! My parents bought the house in the ’70’s, having met in Edmonton but both originally from Italy (my father was from Florence, my mother is from Sicily) and I’ve never known another house but this one for the last 36 years. We have ‘renovated’ it all our lives, adding front rooms early on, re-tiling, painting, etc. for years but never expanding it much more than the 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom 100-year-old little house on 28th street with the massive garden (our poor, dear and loved garden…)… until now !

Our garden – 30 years in the making.

In order to make it a home for all of us, and making sure we all have enough space so that we don’t go crazy, we’ve made some substantial changes: underpinned the foundation so as to provide adequate ceiling height for the new ground-level suite (we couldn’t raise the house any higher than it already was off of street level); putting in a tasteful driveway (if that’s possible?!), retained the main floor walls but pushed out into the back yard for added square footage; took the roof off and added a 2nd floor for Sandy and I – I’ve never had stairs in my house and now I’ll be going up and down them 50 times a day ! Yay for in-home work out!

A little front yard excavation for my birthday !

We are at the framing stage – almost done actually – roughing-in electrical and plumbing, roof is on and the concrete retaining walls are next. We started this process on Christmas day 2014, Sandy and I announced it to my mother as her Christmas present…many happy tears followed… a year of designing the space… countless nights at the dinner table sketching and re-sketching proposed layouts… had an 8-month wait for a permit (!!)... and started asbestos remediation and demolition in mid-August. So we are 8 months in and we are hoping we can move in around July. Scratch that: we better move in around July !

Planning stages… post dinner layout sketching sessions almost every night.. worth it in spades !
a room with a view… demolition begins !

I’ve been a designer for Love it or List it Vancouver for over 4 years, head designer for the better part of the last 2 years, and in these years we have renovated over 100 houses, so I’ve seen and experienced first hand many of the “do’s and don’t’s” of renovating, which has helped me immensely with tackling this little ditty of a renovation (it’s practically a new build).  I have also had the pleasure of working alongside some amazingly talented tradespeople and suppliers that I will be counting on to make sure it’s done to my standards … !

Vinyltek windows are in and Rudy has already claimed his guarding post.

We have a great group of people helping us through this – I’ve worked with Kenny Gemmill and Jillian Harris for over 4 years and count on them for guidance, inspiration, and general support. Kenny and I have worked together through some of the most stressful and demanding of projects – have fought and yelled at each other…  but we have always had each others’ back and we hold each other up to a high standard and respect each other for that. I – we – couldn’t do this project without his assistance and shear bull-headedness to keep us trucking along!!! In addition to helping us out on this project, he is also renovating a home for his family in Southlands – not a small task !

Jillian Harris and I have been working together since my starting on Love it or List it Vancouver and, more recently, have been working even closer (midnight emails and Sunday morning text marathons??!) on her home renovation in Kelowna – yes, Kenny, Jillian and I are all renovating at the same time and helping each other out all around ! It’s very ‘design heavy’ these days but I wouldn’t have it any other way… ! Both of our renovations are featured as part of Jillian’s Renovation Series on her blog – our can be seen here and Kenny’s here.

I’ll try to keep posting more as this project moves along, we’re narrowing down on the design elements… green kitchen… barrel-vaulted hallway and wainscoting…. vaulted bedroom – it won’t be a ‘typical’ house – our contractor pointed out to us the other day that we have one bedroom and one bathroom per floor of a 3-floor home in Vancouver… “…yes. Yes we do”. I said and smiled. “That’s just how we like it”.

More to come… thank you for reading.

– Fresca
















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