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















Bathroom reno: the 80’s called, they want their tile back.

Kits Construction and I teamed up to take a couple bathrooms out of the 80’s and transform them with both style and function for a lovely home in Vancouver. The ensuite was the only “working” bathroom on the top floor for a family of 4. The other bathroom – complete with bidet and jet-powered jacuzzi – was just too scary for the kids to use…. See before photos – eek!

The state of the "scary bathroom" prior to our intervention.
The state of the “scary bathroom” prior to our intervention.

And the ensuite wasn’t in any better shape – cramped for 2 people to use, it was a disaster for 4 to get ready in the mornings. Dad dreamed of a steam shower and mom of some well-deserved space…

The ensuite - tiny shower and single vanity made for angry mornings!
The ensuite – tiny shower and single vanity made for angry mornings!

We enlarged the ensuite only slightly into the bedroom in order to get the toilet around the corner and create the steam shower of their dreams. Custom vanity from Merit Kitchens, stylish tile from Olympia Tile and NuHeat in the floor – you can’t help but smile and feel relaxed walking into this space.


Olympia Tile has a great selection of product – from modern to traditional, there’s always something there that will fit the bill. We selected this mosaic chevron – much to the irritation of our tile installer (sorry Jacky!) – to give the steam shower some edge and elegance.

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The floor tile is all warm and cozy thanks to the NuHeat mats beneath. Great all year round, these heat pads warm the floor up evenly and keep the whole space toasty.


Plumbing fixtures are all Riobel, supplied through EMCO and the great Franco Lucia – speedy service with precision and style – what more can you ask for from a plumbing rep?!


An end-of season magnolia branch clipped from the front yard and we have ourselves a finished ensuite – keep out boys, you’ve got your own bathroom!


The bathroom “for the boys” (for the homeowners’ two sons), was also completed within the same time frame: 6 weeks from start to finish (inc. the main floor reno – soon to be seen on Love it or List it Vancouver). We gutted the dated fixtures and dark paneling (when was paneling ever a good idea?!) and did all new fixtures, tile and cabinetry in soft “haze grey” tones that will stay fresh and current as the sons grow.


The vanity – again from Merit Kitchens – will house all their storage needs, and if it doesn’t, this great linen cabinet and laundry storage will! No excuses now for not getting the towels off the floor – the open laundry hampers couldn’t be more accessible…


Exit jacuzzi, enter deep acrylic tub suitable for bath time. The grey bands of elongated subway tiles tie into the vanity colour and the little Silestone ledge gets the soaps out of the way.


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The NuHeat in this bathroom will also help dry those towels that do end up on the floor…


A couple of updated bathrooms for a young modern family – still in character with their 100-year old home but fresh and new and suited to their lifestyle.

LIOLI Reno: New Life to an Old Charmer

This Love it or List it Vancouver renovation brings an old charmer of a home back to life with an open-concept kitchen/dining space and a family room actually suited to a modern family. Check out the Jillian Harris blog to see what she and the Love it Team  got up to on this one!


Samantha Pynn: Is accessorizing a home ‘a bit of a crock’ ?

Great little article about room-changing touches that are easily obtained and skillfully collected !

National Post

Dear Sam,

When will designers realize accessories and pillows can’t change a house. I’ve been reading about this in every magazine lately like it’s a new story. I heard you say it on TV too. Feels to me like old news and bit of a crock. The homes in photo spreads are frankly unattainable and cost upward of a million dollars.


Dear Jean,

Thanks for your honesty. No one needs to alert the media about the power of pillows and accessories story. Yep, we’ve heard and read it a million times before in decorating magazines and on TV. Of course, if your walls are crumbling or painted a horrid shade, well then, no, there is not much that a pillow can do for you. And, if your home is a mess, jammed to the rafters with junk, a great looking vase isn’t going to do a thing. (No judgment…

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