a peek inside the fishbowl

04 Aug, 2011

Reno post #11: the upstairs

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

I haven’t posted anything about our reno plans for awhile, but let me assure you that it’s still happening, albeit at a snail’s pace. I’m ok with that, I mean really, we’ve waited THIS long, what’s another few months?

This is our architect’s most recent rendering of the upstairs:

Next in the series of upper floor plans

It’s already an old version because we had a meeting in between and a few little things have changed. (You might want to open up a larger version of this image because there are some extra notes in there too.)

Notable changes to this plan include:

1) The counter in the family bathroom. I decided that it shouldn’t be slanted. Although I like the effect, I prefer having extra floor space. Also, I couldn’t imagine what that “extra” counter space in the corner would be used for. (“How about a decorative flower arrangement?” suggested Mark.) Ummm, no.

2) The left and right sides of the master bedroom will be bumped out. On the left (south-facing) there’ll be a window seat. (Mark’s suggestion! He knows it’s been my dream to have a window seat. Thank you honey. That made up for the comment about the bathroom counter.) On the right, a little inset alcove to accommodate a dresser, and maybe a transom window, because it faces my neighbor’s house.

3) Removal of the second bathroom door, the one that goes into the master bedroom. We’ll gain a bit of extra wall on both sides and make the bathroom a bit more private.

I wrote the architect an email yesterday, asking whether or not we are giving ourselves enough space. The floor space of the second storey (as pictured above) does not equal the floor space of the addition underneath it. It’s smaller. This looks gorgeous from the back (in fact, I love it more than the front of our house) but I wonder whether we would better maximize our usable space to build two full storeys out the back? Would it be more prudent from an economic perspective? Is it true what they say (that elusive “they!”) that every corner that’s added to an addition adds to the overall costs?

Anyway, we’ve emailed our concerns to the architect. We’ll see what he says.

What do you think? Your comments are always welcome!

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8 Responses to "Reno post #11: the upstairs"

1 | Vicky Compton

August 4th, 2011 at 9:00 am


I’ve enjoyed following your blog, and especially your reno process because it so mirrors our own. Our West Wellington house looked very similar to yours four months ago and we have struggled with many of your dilemmas- full basement or not, larger vs more efficient space, design for now or for resale, etc…We are a bit ahead of you- about half way through the reno, and if you wanted to come and see what we’re doing that you like, and what you don’t like, you’d be welcome. Even now, as I look at your architect’s plans, I second guess our decisions (oh a window seat and alcove in the master- how nice; and maybe we shouldn’t have gone for the ensuite…)but ultimately, I am so thrilled that we embarked on the whole thing and excited to live in the finished product with our three boys.

2 | Lindsay

August 4th, 2011 at 9:09 am


I love your reno posts! We are just starting to look at this for our family. Love the house, *love* the location, don’t want to move past the Greenbelt… but a reno seems so expensive and so daunting.

Looking at the plans and hearing about the process makes it seem a bit exciting!

P.S. – Love the idea of a window seat!! *happy sigh*

3 | andrea

August 4th, 2011 at 9:15 am


Vicky – I have learned an awful lot about myself during this process. I have always considered myself an “out of the box” thinker but when push comes to shove I find myself looking at rather conventional things. :) I think it’s all about priorities, and those priorities hinge on budget… which all requires a lot of soul searching.

I write a bit about home design for local publications, and one of the things I like most about it is meeting each home owner and hearing what their wants and needs were when they set out to build or renovate. Everyone is different, and I find that really fascinating. You want an ensuite bath, I want that space elsewhere. Neither is wrong. It is intensely personal.

I would LOVE to come see your reno plans or talk to you more about your decisions. The more people I talk to about it the more it seems to help me. I will drop you a line. Thank you!

4 | Hellcat13

August 4th, 2011 at 10:02 am


I don’t have much to add, but I am following your reno posts with great interest. We’re starting to get to a point where we are going to tackle some renos of our own (mainly kitchen at this point) so it’s fun to see someone else going through the process.

5 | Leah Eustace

August 4th, 2011 at 11:57 am


I love that you got your window seat. With your bedroom facing the back, it is going to be delicious! I haven’t done a window seat with our reno, but am turning an awkward corner of the bedroom into a reading nook for myself: same idea I guess.

6 | Mel

August 8th, 2011 at 5:20 pm


I love reading about your reno! It looks very useable space, especially with the changes you’ve mentioned above — the bedrooms are a good size, you’ve got a walk in closet and two bathrooms. What would you do with the extra space if you did go bigger?

btw, love the window seat idea — I’ve always loved them and had two for a brief time when I lived in Vancouver.

7 | Shan @ the fairyblogmother

August 9th, 2011 at 8:54 pm


Love reading these posts. I would love to be able to tackle such a project here. We love our location and our house for the most part, but being 100 years old it doesn’t exactly flow with how we live today.

8 | Reno post #15 - upstairs lairs >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 12th, 2011 at 9:44 am


[…] what the last version of this floorplan looked like. We tussled with it for awhile and eventually realized that we weren’t using the space as […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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