Summer is here.  It’s finally HERE!!  Yay! Taking care of the inside and OUTSIDE of your home, because you have nothing else to do, right?

It does seem like double the work I’m not gonna lie, but enjoying the outside in a nice space is so worth it.

Our home is 40+ years old and like every house it’s always needing work (MONEY PIT).  We have a LOOOOONG way to go before we get to where we want to be,  and for the “lets do it NOW” person in me, renovating an entire home has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced.  Luckily money makes the decision process much easier,  mostly because the money tree isn’t always sprouting so progress is brought to a screeching hault.


Child labour has helped keep costs way down.

This is the beginning of a series of posts that will highlight our patio and outdoor makeover with a company called Keep Your Castle. I’m also going to share my tips of how I’ve managed to survive  renovations.

  • The First Rule is Finding Someone You Trust.  This is HUGE.  Not only are these people going to be on your property, they have to stick to the quote they gave you and ensure the safety and quality of the job they are doing.  Get references, asking around is valuable.  Word of mouth is always a great reference.  Talk with your contractor, if they really don’t listen to what you want and work with your style and choices you probably shouldn’t work together.
  • Narrow Your Choices.  This makes the contractors job easier and yours. There is soo much to choose from today. Take into account the age of your home, the style of your home, the overall look you want.  Do you like antique, contemporary, modern?  When we renovated our kitchen with Belfry Custom Carpentry,  I could NOT decide if I wanted a light or dark kitchen.  I got some magazines, searched on and really tried to gravitate to what I always went back to. Start with a top five list and then narrow it down to the top two. If you really struggle with decision making (many of us do) ask your friends.  Are you happy with your white kitchen?  Do you like your flagstone patio?  Do you prefer concrete over stone? Chances are someone you know has been through the decision making process, use their experience to help you!

The original kitchen was ready for a makeover.


Post reno.  I couldn’t decide between light and dark so I picked both.  Kitchen from Cabinetree. Installed by Belfry Custom Cabinetry.

  • Budget.  This really will make the rest of  your decisions much easier, especially narrowing down your choices.  Know what you can and cannot afford. Think of it like buying a house.  DON’T look at the 500k+ houses when you’re pre-approved for 225k.  It hurts and it will give you a drinking problem.
  • Practicality. I hate gardening and I hate maintenance. I knew I didn’t want anything that required any work from me. When we were picking a new patio, we knew we loved stamped concrete but we had it at our other house, so we were open to trying a change.  Paul & Sherry (owners of Keep Your Castle), knew our budget and knew that we were flexible on the material, so when they found a deal on remnant pre-cut flagstone, we were all over it.


  • PATIENCE.  This is the biggest one for me.  I need a clear, clutter free space around me.  This is NOT possible during any renovation, indoor or outdoor.  When my brother (Leahy Excavations) did our septic last year,  every time I looked out at our torn up lawn I cringed.  GET OVER IT.  It will be finished.  Trust me it makes it so worth it in the end.  I also have a mental checklist of phases.  I know we can’t finish everything at once, but if I mentally tell myself there are phases to our home renovations, it’s easier for me.  Our patio and railing is phase 2 of about 5 MAJOR phases.  I also need to teach myself to stop apologizing for the state of my house when people visit.  Explaining is fine, but apologizing is not necessary.
  • FILTER.  Everyone has an opinion.  MY oh MY.  Yep they will come over and say “hmmm you know what you should do” “You know what would look better” “If I were you, I would” or my favourite “have you not finished that yet?”  ” Well all you need to do is…”.  Some of these comments are helpful and some really SUCK.  Just smile and nod.  Living through renos is like having a baby, no body truly understands until they have experienced it.   Put on the filter and just listen to what helps.


VOILA!  The lavendar 70’s pimp bathroom is gone! The kid did a decent job.

Okay stay tuned.  I’m so excited to see the finished product, I hope you are too.  If you have any questions, please let me know.  Renovating an entire house with three small kids and working full time was like I said far bigger mentally then I could have ever imagined.  We made it though, and I love our home, at the end of the day its about the people inside that really matter.