the pint-sized finale

Well, the last few weeks have felt like molasses, only because when you’re this close to having something – time slows waayyyyy dooowwwnnnnn. That said, I see now that heaps has happened since my last blog post, so clearly things were not moving that slowly at all. The little details matter so much though! Smallworks has been polishing up our place nicely, and we’re just days (perhaps hours!) away from being able to move in. What we have managed to get ‘in’ the house however, is our edibles in pots on the balcony and also our balcony furniture! We’re anticipating many a mojito this summer on that balcony, and many weekend breakfasts in the sun.. whenever the sun shines in Vancouver, that is. We ended up planting romaine and red leaf lettuce, cilantro, rainbow sage, variegated oregano, basil, chives, kale and sugar snap peas. We’ve also planted some arugula and nasturtium seeds that should be sprouting in a couple of weeks. Not bad for a first shot at edible balconies, I think! We’re easing our way in and hope to plant a few things for the fall too.

Other than that, I don’t have much to report in words, because I think the pictures say it best. Below you’ll find our finished product, as a slide show. We’re so pleased with our new home and are just dying to move in!

Although our journey with Smallworks and laneway house construction is nearing an end, this isn’t really the end… it’s only the beginning. The Pint-sized House blog will be a place for us to share ideas on small space living, healthy living and eating, and other things that we come across that we’d like to share with others. Not to mention the fact that we haven’t moved in yet and will want to share how we add our own finishing touches. I can’t wait to see what the industrial furniture we bought looks like in there.

Until next time! (when we should be living in our pint-sized house)

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paint it black

The finishing touches are happening all around us these days, some of which we have been involved with as well – that is, fence staining. We’ve had several compliments from passers by about our new fence, and I think it’s for good reason.

The landscaper got creative and suggested the spacing between panels, with the thinner piece in between. We’re all quite happy with it, although staining between those gaps could have been a little more fun. It’s all done now except for two sections and the gates which still have to be installed. We went with a natural cedar stain to keep the natural beauty of the wood. Another pretty addition to the garden is the re-location of my parents’ egyptian iron gates which my dad fastened to the fence in the shared patio area, which will eventually have a vine of some sort creeping along it.

Moving on, I had a DIY project last weekend, prettying up an industrial spool which you may recall from a blog post many moons ago:

I decided, with the help of my mom’s suggestion, to stain it black to go with our black accents on the laneway house. Also, there is a lot of natural wood colour around already so a contrast is nice. I didn’t want to lose the character of the old, distressed wood though, so I went to General Paints and found a semi-transparent wood stain that I got tinted with black. I have to say I’m pretty proud of this:

There’s just the right amount of wood grain and flaws showing, and the black reminds me of the treated wood you see in old industrial areas along the water, like the former canneries and old docks in Steveston.

This spool will reside on our balcony as a table/seat. Perfect for late afternoon martinis or summertime mojitos and a book or good friends…ahh. Only a couple of more weeks until it’s reality! Here’s a photo with the composite decking material that was recently installed. I blogged about it more a few weeks ago. It looks pretty much like real wood!

Speaking of books, I’ve purchased a fabulous one titled Sugar Snaps and Strawberries by Andrea Bellamy, a Vancouver gardener, writer and blogger at Heavy Petal.

As you can see I was already enjoying the spool table with a cocktail yesterday afternoon in the early spring sunshine after work yesterday. We’d really like to have a predominantly, or completely, edible balcony garden, starting this year – although we’ll be a little late to start in the season so we’ll have to consider that when we plant things. Next year I hope to be into it full force though, starting seedlings indoors in the garage before spring. Bellamy’s book is perfect for beginners or those who know a bit about gardening but not much about edibles. It’s well written, has gorgeous photography and Bellamy’s passion for gardening and edibles is contagious. She discusses both balcony and small space gardens – containers to garden beds. I’m kind of obsessed because of this book!

Some more finishing touches around the laneway house include our black painted doors, which are nearly finished (the trim still needs to be done).

I’m a sucker for black and red.. and cedar is the cherry on top. Now, let’s go through the door and check out our new appliances! Wow, I never thought there would be a day when I would become excited about appliances. It’s okay, I still get ID’d at the liquor store so that’s what counts, right?

 Lined up here is an LG refrigerator which is narrow and tall, which come standard with Smallworks’ home designs since they fit perfectly into smaller kitchens. It’s quite lovely inside too, with the bottom being the freezer that has separate drawers to keep things organized. Next in line, a dual fuel Fisher-Paykel oven which we splurged on because we love to cook, and this will make it more enjoyable. There’s a warming drawer with moisture control on the bottom too. Finally, there is the drawer dishwasher, also by Fisher-Paykel. It’s a lot bigger than it looks! Another great space-efficient feature that Smallworks uses as a standard fixture in their home designs. We don’t have a dishwasher in our current place so I think we might be looking forward to using it more than the fancy range at first!

To wrap things up, I wanted to share another crafty project I’m finishing up this weekend. I have some reasonably unattractive IKEA folding chairs that I’ve had for years. I also had heaps of pretty IKEA fabric left over from our wedding. Put the two together and you get this:

The fabric happens to match our colour scheme in the laneway house, so it’ll be nice to cover up those basic chairs when we’re entertaining. Plus, it makes them more comfortable. IKEA has its fair share of low-quality furnishings which are fine for temporary living (which I am pretty well trying to avoid now) but I still find it’s great for things like fabric and home accents. Really, who can resist their funky series of outdoor solar powered lights?

We’re also getting our patio furniture there, something they have great small-space options for, namely this ÄPPLARÖ gateleg folding table that can have both leaves dropped to make the storing size only 8 inches wide by approximately 30 inches long.

Alright, I think that’s enough for today!! I had some catching up to do. Thanks for sticking with me! Next week the flooring goes in upstairs, and minor touch-ups will be done before we sign off and are ready to move in. Have a great weekend! I hope it’s as sunny wherever you are as it is here today.


when sewage becomes exciting

Yup, that there is a no stopping sign. What makes it so exciting? It means our sewer and water lines are being connected very soon!

Perhaps the only time a person could be so excited about sewage is a time such as this.  It marks the last big, noisy and messy part of the project. Hurray!

Moving on from sewer talk, things are looking beautiful indoors. We were able to take a peek recently so I snapped a few shots.

Here we have wrought iron spindles with oak railings, and our custom entertainment cabinetry on the right, made from alder. Alder is a very plentiful local wood, so we feel pretty good about our choice, both from an aesthetic view and more sustainable one!

The left side of our kitchen. We decided on alder cabinetry on the bottom, and white with glass on the top, to make the space feel a little taller and more open on top. I am especially fond of our farmhouse sink.

We decided we liked the clean look of subway tiles. It also goes well with our semi-industrial look.

Our custom built-in corner couch, with storage drawers and a hatch on one side to stow spare folding chairs. Also made of alder. Upholstered seat arrives soon!

A better look at our entertainment unit. The hole in the centre will feature our fish tank.

Our shower tiling detail. I saw something like this on Houzz.com and really loved it, so this is our version of it. I also blogged about it way back in the early months of our project. I really liked the ‘waterfall’ feel that the orientation of the tiles gives.  Quite happy with this! Sorry for the poor photo.. there wasn’ t much light in there at the time.

And now, for my favourite thing:

I have a thing for exposed beams. These were put in after the drywall, and have oak cladding. Super pleased with this! It’ll make our bedroom so cozy. At the back of the room there, we have a window seat and storage built in to maximize the space and not have to worry about finding furniture to fit in. We’ll be using basket or similar to store things on those shelves. A bookshelf is going in on the right as well.

This is becoming a long post. I also want to share what’s going on outside though. Things are looking much better these days!

We’ve gone from this:

To this!

The patio has a few garden beds lining it, one along our house on the left there, another on the right by my parents’ back stairs, and then another one against the fence (not visible) which will have a 20 foot tall tree for extra greenery and privacy. Things aren’t looking green now obviously, but I think it’s going to be a very pretty and useable little courtyard for all of us.

Things will be ‘back to normal’ before we know it.. Spring is starting to show it’s lovely buds and we’re feeling our new beginning is just around the corner!

Smallworks continues to be fabulous and we couldn’t recommend them enough if you’re considering building with them.


The Caboose

Yep, it’s been a little while. I’m starting to lose momentum on this blog stuff, but we’ve also been pretty busy. We just had a wonderful extended weekend in Rossland, BC with friends. Lots of fluffy powder for snowboarding and cross-country skiing.  I’d never been there before – it was beautiful! And Rossland is a lovely little mountain town.

View from the window out to Rossland

Snowy shadows on the edge of Nancy Green Lake

Back in Vancouver, the outside of the laneway house is looking awesome. All that’s left is the siding on the inside of the balcony, and the composite decking material. When my uncle saw the house the other day, he said it reminded him of a train – and we concluded it was The Caboose. We all thought that was very clever and amusing, and I think we’re going to stick with it. How could we resist naming our cute little red house? Yeah, we’re dorks.

Our little red caboose

Do you see the likeness? heehee

I’ve mentioned the composite decking in an older post, but I didn’t have the manufacturer’s name. It’s called Moisture Shield and it’s an environmentally friendly product made from  95% pre- and post-consumer recycled content, including construction debris, grocery bags, plastic milk jugs, and more.  It’s then treated to look like wood – and it’s pretty convincing!

An example image from Moisture Shield's gallery

They also make deck tiles and fencing. It’s supposed to look good for up to 25 years which is great. Less maintenance is always a bonus, especially if we can help the environment too!

During my time of silence on the blog, we also had our 2 paragraphs of fame in the Vancouver Sun Weekend Extra a couple of weekends ago, exploring the question of whether laneway housing is an affordable housing solution.  The journalist somehow got it in her head that I’m a “visual artistic director” which made me chuckle.  Sure, I’ll take it.

Our photo in the paper

So what’s next? We’re getting electricity today! The drywall is up and the primer is on the walls. We’re supposed to have the sewer connected within three weeks as well, which is a huge relief because the city sewer crews have been backed up (no pun intended) with waits of up to 18 weeks. They recently added crews to work on weekends and try to get through the huge heap of connection requests on the waiting list. Vancouver is a busy growing city!

Thanks for reading – more to come on the interior finishing soon!

 


darn that flying time…

Okay, it’s been far too long since our last update. Between a computer keyboard breaking (not at ALL because of me being clumsy and spilling water on it), Christmas holidays, and being sick through the new year, it’s been tough to find time or feel motivated to write something. Today was particularly exciting though, because the walls are going up! So… no more being lazy. Time to share some stuff.

Everything has been going well, except for a *minor* issue of the main house on the lot being old, and the soil around it very loose and weak. As the excavators were digging along south side of the house for the sewer line, they found it was probably risky to just fill it in normally, since the old foundation and weak soil wasn’t going to be so good for keeping the house stable. Things would start slipping over time. An unfortunate slight increase in the budget that couldn’t be avoided. My parents would rather not have their house start leaning like the Tower of Pisa for some reason. To remedy this, some concrete reinforcement will be put in place before filling in with the usual stuff.

To summarize what’s happened since the last post, It seems best to share photos rather than describe. The following are highlights from December before the holidays.

Initial digging of the foundation pit.

Taking down the hedges to make way for the sewer line.

The beginnings of framing for the foundation.

Digging the sewer line trench.

Bringing in more wood for the framing.

Pouring the concrete into the foundation framing.

There’s a lot more that I’ll put in a separate post. I shall leave you with our silly Christmas joke. Gotta pretty up the front yard somehow, right?


exposed and framed

My parents have had their house for 26 years. There has been a large cedar hedge sheltering the front yard for longer than that. Today was its final day on this earth, to make way for the sewer line digging. It’s pretty strange to see, and feels so exposed out there now! On the up side though, there will be a lot more light and space for a variety of plants to live where the hedge once was, and also less maintenance in terms off no annual hedge trimming. A lattice style fence is planned for the front and side of the house which will no doubt look quite  nice once things are grown in again. I feel a bit conflicted about removing greenery like this – probably the thing I feel the worst about (after the back garden) when it come to the whole plan. I hope mother nature can forgive us! We’ll do our best to replace what’s been lost and it’ll be beautiful again one day in the not too distant  future.

that used to be wall of green.

 

Those wil be gone in a couple of hours. The tree in front is staying.

 

As of Thursday, the digging in the back yard has been complete and the framing  for the foundation is starting to be placed. It’s the weekend and work is still being done. Now I really understand how Smallworks can get their homes up so quickly! It’s kind of neat to see this going in, as it gives a bit of an idea of the size already.

The front of the house is at the left side of the photo.

 

With all the work plowing ahead at full speed, I’m sure I’ll have something  to share again soon!


a time for new beginnings

The sad part of building our laneway house is the inevitable loss of garden space. We don’t just have any old yard either. It’s had years of dedication from my mom and dad, making it into a lush sanctuary for the birds and bees. I admire my parents for their willingness to accept such a big change to their space and routine.  Their love and kindness to me growing up and into my adult life has always been amazing, and this laneway house project is more proof of that. I know we’ll have a new and lovely garden and patio once it’s all done – but I’ll always remember the little Dunbar oasis that my mom created here. I took some photos in August to document it before things had to start being taken out and moved into pots. This post is a little tribute to the beauty and the care that was poured into the garden. Gardens are classic symbols of growth and change, so it almost seems appropriate that now that I’m seeing my parent’s garden being taken apart, I can feel our new beginning is on it’s way.

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