a peek inside the fishbowl

12 Sep, 2012

Reno post #39 – bookshelves, and again about the driveway

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Home/reno

We are in the home stretch now and I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m heading out to buy doorknobs today. Seriously. This is what my life is like at the moment, but I realize that I’m better qualified to buy doorknobs than bang together a new bookcase.

Speaking of which, here is My Dream Come True, coming to life:


I’ve always wanted a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, and here it is. I still can’t believe it. The spaces on the far right are very deep. Those will be reserved for board game storage although I’m considering giving the bottom right one over to Piper to use as a wee dog house. :)

Yesterday I went into my reno archives and read some of my older reno posts. We’ve come so far. For example, the mudroom. At first I was determined to have Marmoleum floors. Then we considered vinyl. Then we found a gorgeous honed travertine tile. Then we found out we’d need to have a subfloor installed if we wanted to move forward with the travertine. And so then we went to porcelain instead (which we probably should have chosen in the first place) and found the perfect tile at Lowes for only $1.68/square foot. (You can get a peek at that here.) So that part of the flooring is getting finished today, which is a relief because we’ve spent an incredible amount of time talking/planning/shopping.

At the moment I’m fretting about landscaping, namely the driveway and side walkway and it’s taking up quite a bit of my brain. I’ve written about my personal conundrum with driveways before. Personally I’d like a grass driveway (there’s a very good post about it here) and it’s been done in Ottawa before but A Certain Someone does not agree with me. (Just think how much water we’d stop from filling the sewers if everyone had a grass driveway!) Sadly, one can probably assume those special grid-like tiles that go under the grass are expensive.

Thus I find myself at a driveway-related crossroads, and it all needs to be figured out fairly quickly.

  • We only have one car and the driveway should comfortably host one car but also a second one if we have visitors.
  • Interlock is out of our budget.
  • I kind of hate black asphalt. It looks so harsh to me.
  • Fine gravel or crushed brick might work. At least it looks more natural, but it might not work well in our winters.

Here’s a sketch of what the area looks like. I think I’m going to need to suck it up and have to pour that asphalt over the parking pad and up to the side-entrace steps. Maybe the right side of that part of the driveway (leading to the backyard) can consist of a pea gravel path and lots of planters? Gah. I don’t know. Got any good ideas to toss my way?

24 Responses to "Reno post #39 – bookshelves, and again about the driveway"

1 | Leah Eustace

September 12th, 2012 at 10:45 am


Please, please, go with mud. Then it will match our driveway and people will begin to think it’s a new trend. (Nothing like running out of money before the driveway is done.) As an alternative: wait until the house next door to you is going to be torn down by a developer, then talk to said developer about getting a good deal on a driveway since he’ll have all his contractors next door anyway (that’s what we did… and he agreed!).

2 | Giulia

September 12th, 2012 at 10:55 am


We need to redo our driveway – it’s crumbling. I really wanted to do this: http://pinterest.com/pin/120330621264878192/
and I think it would work perfectly with our 50s house. But hubby does not approve, seeing it would be to hard to remove the snow and that our kids could not play basketball and/or street hockey (they don’t do either as they are 3 and 5!!) Sighhh.

3 | binki

September 12th, 2012 at 12:42 pm


I am so glad we are following your reno (starting this month). We will re-use all the research you’ve done for flooring, fixtures, etc. You have maintained a running list of all the products you picked out…yes? ;-) Pretty please?

We have the same issue with our driveway. I think we’ll go with the interlock which is pricey but we’ll save by doing the pre-work myself (yes, I do know how hard it is…I did another driveway) and then getting a pro to lay the brick. I like the idea of grass with vertical brick. If you like it, do it.

4 | Fiona

September 12th, 2012 at 12:47 pm


In our old driveway we had success using interlock pavers as a nice deep border that linked up to the path that led to the front doors. Then the middle portion of the driveway was poured asphalt. This broke up the expanse of black asphalt, kept the costs of interlock down and made for easy transitions where we had some slight grade changes.

5 | vivian

September 12th, 2012 at 2:37 pm


I was going to suggest something like what Fiona mentioned — a mix of asphalt and interlock pavers. In our neighbourhood, there’ve been quite a few people who’ve done this nicely, as a way of getting extra driveway space (parking on top of the interlock) without being a giant expanse of asphalt.

I’m not sure I’d like a grass driveway, as I’m already looking for ways to decrease the amount of grass on our property (with more garden beds and river rocks etc.) — who wants more to mow?

6 | andrea

September 12th, 2012 at 3:53 pm


Leah – you are lucky!

Binki – Er, I think so. Good for you for doing the pre-work yourself. I just can’t. I will dig out my garden though! Just need a plan first. Hmm.

Guilia – I saw that too, and I love it. (Related: why are husbands such a killjoy sometimes??) ;)

Fiona – I’ve seen that! It’s not a bad option. I’ve seen that design used well in our neighbourhood!

Vivian – I don’t care about weeds in the lawn, as long as it’s greenish! I think the benefits are numerous. There should be MORE grass and trees in our city, not less! :)

7 | lacoop

September 12th, 2012 at 5:01 pm


If you like weeds, you’ll love our yard. :-)

8 | Lorrie Douthwright

September 12th, 2012 at 6:56 pm


Custom boardgame storage!? Seriously? Could I just live with you? Please? I promise to bring my massage table.

9 | andrea

September 12th, 2012 at 8:13 pm


lacoop – I have no problem with weeds, and they love me too. :)

Lorrie – YES. It was an odd corner, and I was looking at it when it suddenly hit me… that’s where I’m going to put our vintage board game collection! (But, er, I need a few more to fill it. And a ladder!) hee hee

10 | jennhoegg

September 12th, 2012 at 8:26 pm


We want to switch out our cracking old asphalt for this – http://www.terrafirmenterprises.com/application/parking
Just not sure it would work on a slope.

I would love more details on those bookshelves. We’re in (never ending0 basement reno mode

11 | coffeewithjulie

September 12th, 2012 at 8:35 pm


At our old home, we had a gravel/peastone/whatever you call it driveway — it was a total pain in the butt! Especially in winter when you are trying to shovel it. We redid ours with fancy-schmancy interlocking brick but it didn’t cost us much cuz Hubby did all the back-breaking work himself. (I swear the man is part horse! I don’t know how he does it!)

As for the complete wall of bookshelves, I am swooning! My goal in life is to have one complete floor to ceiling bookshelf wall that is tall enough that I need a sliding ladder. One day, one day ….

12 | Mary @ Parenthood

September 13th, 2012 at 5:52 am


I’ve been agonizing about our driveway too which must be totally replaced (looking for recommendations for contractors that do that btw…)

I too am attracted by the idea of a grass driveway, but not keen on mowing or weeding. Our weeds are green but they are also noxious (eg ragweed!) which makes my neighbours miserable and can result in a fine if they complain.

The real concern though? We have a shared driveway, and taking aside the reality that both households will have to agree on the solution, the impermability of the driveway is a plus when it comes to our basement. I don’t really want the water soaking into the driveway because there’s a real risk that it will soak into the house. We prefer to have the water directed into our lawn. So does that mean a half and half???

It’s a really loooong driveway too.

13 | binki

September 13th, 2012 at 8:41 am


I need one of those bookcases. I thought my sunken (into the wall) shelves were cool but your bookcase is way cooler.

14 | andrea

September 13th, 2012 at 8:56 am


Julie (or anyone with a gravel or pea-stone driveway) … can’t you just tamp down a layer of snow and then shovel over it? Or is this oversimplifying?

15 | andrea

September 13th, 2012 at 8:57 am


binki – we’ll have to have you over for the big reveal! :)

16 | andrea

September 13th, 2012 at 8:59 am


Mary – you make a good point re: the runoff going *away* from the house. This is important to keep in mind. Perhaps the solution can be something like Guilia linked to above? Grass and interlock?

17 | Sheila

September 13th, 2012 at 11:17 pm


Did you know asphalt can be tinted and stamped? It can colour match interlock or grey paving stones or if stamped it could look (sort of) like interlock, or whatever other shaped stamps are available. If you decided on the interlock edges and asphalt between, at least it needn’t be a stretch of black.

18 | Andrea

September 14th, 2012 at 9:27 am


I am in love with glow stones – little beauties that pretty up the driveway with ambient light and are completely enviro friendly. Love, love, the look – although convincing the husband may be another thing entirely. :)

19 | Sara

September 14th, 2012 at 6:03 pm


We have small boys on bikes so asphalt is a necessity ;)

Those are absolutely FABULOUS book shelves!!

20 | coffeewithjulie

September 15th, 2012 at 7:44 pm


Andrea – to answer your question … we lived them for more than 10 years of winters before we finally did the deed to replace them with an alternative. We cursed them every year. Also, they are very dusty in summer too.

21 | margaret

September 16th, 2012 at 11:09 am


I have a friend that has a peastone driveway, and while she does have to be a bit careful with shoveling in the winter (or you lose half the stones), I think the appearance during the rest of the year and the benefit of no water runoff makes it well worthwhile. Net time I redo my driveway, that’s what I’m going to do.

About Mary’s comment above about the water runoff going into the basement – the pea gravel is not going to be any worse than what (presumably) happens on other sides on the house where she likely has grass/landscaping.

If you are thinking of doing it, then angular stones are better than round (they stay in place better).

If your budget stretches to it and you decide on interlock – there are permeable pavers. They’re a bit more expensive but they do keep the water out of the storm sewers..

22 | margaret

September 16th, 2012 at 11:29 am


Hey again – another couple of comments – my friend’s driveway is pretty short so being careful with shoveling over a short stretch is okay. A longer driveway might be a pain – your certain someone also may not be too keen on being careful. In my experience, certain someone’s usually go for pragmatic over appearance. For my own driveway, I see a battle looming!!

Another drawback of peastone would be if you have a tree around the driveway – in fall, getting leaves out of peastone is annoying.

23 | Reno post #40 - heart’s desires >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 17th, 2012 at 7:25 am


[…] that my last reno-related post included a snap of The Bookshelf of My Dreams I thought it would be interesting to list the things […]

24 | Mary @ Parenthood

September 23rd, 2012 at 3:01 pm


I have a shared driveway, so driveway gets double the water runoff as compared to other sides of the house (which also have better waterproofing, better eavestroughing and rain barrel coverage). In my situation permeable driveway by the house is really not necessarily a good idea.

But I’m loving that green driveway look and wondering whether my hubby (and neighbours) would go for it up to the house. Only problem would be how to mark as driveway so that neighbours don’t drive on the actual lawn! This is already a problem, as many people have difficulty reversing 30ft in a straight line even with the driveway clearly marked. Hmm

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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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