In this particular master ensuite, the placement of windows was the key element of the design.
I've listed out the elements that make the window placement of this design so unique and attractive.
The mosaic tile feature wall with 2 large clerestory windows (positioned at the top of the wall) allow natural light to fill this master ensuite while still allowing for mirrors to be placed above each sink.
These windows provide a view to the outside, the gorgeous tree tops and blue sky.
The shower positioned at the far wall is another central element is the positioning of this window. As we enter the room we have a view to the exterior, right through the shower.
Again, the window is positioned higher up on the wall so that using the shower is still private with the added advantage of showering with a view.
Both are good examples of how to position windows in a creative way that added functionality, natural light and an enhanced (daily) user experience.
This reference might age me bit but I’m not embarrassed to say that this was one of my favourite shows when I was a kid.
Do you remember the house that was a central part of the The Brady Bunch television show?
The TV family of eight plus housekeeper Alice lived in a Los Angles split level home. If you take a look at the street view of 11222 Dilling Street, Studio City on Google Maps, you’ll see the house is still there looking pretty much the same as it did back in the 60’s.
The typical 1950s-60s split level home – the kitchen and living room was mom’s domain, a place for women’s club lunches while downstairs in the family den and garage was dad’s escape zone. Down another set of steps was the basement where you would find the kids.
Before we discuss the process of renovating a split-level house, let’s discuss what a split-level house actually entails.
What is a Split-Level House?
A split-level house is an architectural approach to building homes that was popularized by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The split-level home is defined by multiple levels, which are separated by small flights of stairs. Wright’s conception of the home hinged on the idea that houses should naturally blend with their landscapes, and homes with half floors would accomplish this vision. Instead of a single long staircase, living areas could be separated from private areas by just a few simple steps.
Another version of the split-level house is the sidesplit. A sidesplit is a type of split-level home. In a sidesplit, the multiple levels are all visible from the front elevation. Usually, the garage is on one side of the house and there is a floor for the bedrooms above the garage. The other half of the house is the main living area. Steps connect the exterior street to the front door on the main level. Most sidesplits also have a crawlspace, allowing for the foundation to be the same for both halves of the split house.
The History of The Split
How did the split-level come into existence? Well, the housing market was making plenty of demands in the 1950’s – people wanted more, bigger, and less monotonous houses. Neighbourhoods with larger homes eventually stopped building bungalows. Instead, developers answered with the original split-level home.
Historians credit Frank Lloyd Wright as the inventor of the split-level house; however, it’s unlikely that he conceived the modern split-level. He split his prairie style designs and he believed the split would become an affordable home for the average American. This belief was true, however, not until his original design was tweaked. His early version of the split-level home was actually beyond the means of the average family.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Split-Level House
The advantage of the sidesplit is that it separates sections of the house without the need for a full flight of stairs. It is less land efficient than a two-story house, but more efficient than a bungalow in terms of the land it occupies. While split-level homes are not large, they are functional. The benefit for a family with small children is that you can be close to one another, regardless of where in the house you are.
There are some disadvantages to split-levels homes. Some of these include the placement of the stairs. For instance, if you enter your split-level home through the garage, you have to carry your groceries up half a flight of stairs to the kitchen. The amount of stairs can also be troublesome for some people, and harder to block off when childproofing your home for infants and toddlers.
The space is also compartmentalized, which is possibly restricting in terms of how you plan to use your space, or in terms of how you plan to renovate it.
In terms of the room layout, some side-splits have dark family rooms as they are below ground. Some others don’t have a powder room on the main level with the kitchen, dining room, and formal living room so guests use the full bathroom upstairs or go down to the half bath off the family room downstairs.
Renovating Your Home
Split-level homes are often quite structurally sound. Walden Homes has modernized and updated them in the past, providing new mechanical, electrical, heating, windows, and den. The main requests are to update the finishes in the home or to enlarge the kitchen.=
The main level is usually very workable with the kitchen and is easy to update in renovations. The bedrooms can be trickier. Split-level homes often only have 3 bedrooms, and adding more bedrooms can prove challenging.
Split-levels provide a lot of natural light, and are easy to get around because of the shorter flights of stairs.
Do you want to know how to renovate your split-level home? Contact Walden Homes today for a free consultation.
Winter can be a magical season. The snow falling, the Christmas lights, hot chocolate by the fire – it all seems very romantic on paper, doesn’t it? In reality, we know winter doesn’t always look the way it’s portrayed onscreen or on our holiday cards. After all, the bitter winds, slush, and snow shovelling does not make for a picturesque holiday card.
Cindy, the Interior Designer at Snap Design & Contracting, knows winter can be tough on all of us, so she thought about things she has done to make winter easier on her and her family. She decided to share her tips for surviving a long, brutal winter so you can find the picturesque part of your winter and enjoy it too!
1. Heat Your Home
Heating your home during the winter may sound like an obvious way to keep warm this winter, but there are different ways to warm up your home! Consider installing a fireplace if you don’t have one. There’s nothing more comforting in the winter than curling up next to the fireplace with a good book or a hot chocolate. If you don’t have the ability to vent your home properly, there are beautiful, modern alternatives to a wood-burning fireplace such as electric, ethanol, etc. You may also consider upgrading to a modern, programmable control for your home, like Nest. The Nest thermostat allows you to set the temperature from anywhere with your phone.
Another way to keep warm is through radiant heated floors. Electric and in-floor hot water options are not expensive to install if you are doing so before tile or during renovations. Besides, nothing feels as nice as heated floors when it’s snowing and blowing outside. These are a great addition in the bathroom to make getting out of a warm shower easier. Another way to get you to stop dreading that moment when you have to leave your warm shower is installing a heated towel bar. This does require a hot water connection and can be taken into consideration when you are renovating the bathroom.
2. Light Up Your Home
It’s not just the cold that chills us in the winter – it’s the lack of light. We all know that lighting affects our mood. Winter is always darker, so we have to make sure we’re lighting our home for maximum effect. Some ways to do that include:
· Candles: Add romance on those dark evenings with candles
· Dimmers: Dimmers create an ambiance to any room – and they’re easy to install!
· String of Lights: A simple string of lights can emphasize a dim space in your home and are available on a battery-operated timer. I use them on floating shelves & love them!
· Landscape Lighting: On those cold nights you don’t want to go out, you can savour the winter from inside with landscape lighting around your property
3. Get Cozy
Once the cold weather sets in, all you want to do is snuggle up and get cozy. Throws add warmth and texture to a room, whether they’re faux fur or low-hair throws, use them to stay warm as well as add colour and interest to the room. Have slippers ready for yourself and guests for the walk between the front door and those throws!
Here’s where you can start to recreate that picturesque portrait of the winter season. Use winter scents to create affection for the season. Play soft tunes to meld with the quiet after a snowfall. Warm up with some mulled drinks, like apple cider or mulled wine, after some time outside.
4. Add Colour
This season may be colourless, but it doesn’t mean your home has to be! You can add some colour to uplift your spirits. Punch up the season with intensity and drama in pictures. Use flowers to add colour, scent, and the reminiscence of spring. Use fruit like pomegranates, cranberries, and apples to add texture and colour to a winter centrepiece. Use throws and accent pillows to add a splash of colour to your space. Even if winter is grey and bleak, remember that your home doesn’t have to be.
Winter may be cold, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. Have guests over for dinner to celebrate winter cheer. Plan outdoor activities – and we don’t mean shovelling snow – with friends. Do something fun like skating or snowshoeing (I just bought snowshoes and can’t wait to break them in)! Once you’ve had enough of the cold, invite everyone back for a warm drink by the fire. You’ll appreciate winter a little more after having some fun.
6. Prepare for Winter Conditions
No matter how hard you wish it away with colour, cozying up, or some fun – winter is here to stay and you should prepare for winter conditions. Don’t overlook doormats. You could still be creative with them! Instead of the regular dark, hefty mat, try one that is made from recycled materials, making it a lighter, colourful, beautiful piece. Organize your winter gear, especially shovels and brooms so they are handy to reach in a snowstorm.
Considering the record amounts of rain we’ve been receiving around the city, we thought we’d put together an quick post on ways to flood and leak proof your home. Many homeowners in Toronto are facing some serious basement and flooding damage. We’ve come up with a few tips to prevent future damage.
Identify the Problem
First thing’s first. Identify problem areas on your property that are prone to accumulating water. Note the grading of your lot and any slight angles or hills that facilitate water collecting in particular areas. If your lot is prone to collecting pools of water, it may be worth investing in ways to diverts excess water away from the foundation of the home into a water basin or dry-well. Also make sure that your roof is draining away from foundation walls.
Older Construction Homes
Further, many older homes in Toronto were not built with weeping tiles which is an essential components of a foundation drainage system. Weeping tiles are pipes that are installed below grade, buried under gravel, filter cloth and then soil.
Water that collects in the surrounding soil drains down into the weeping tile pipe, which diverts the water into a storm sewer or sump pump, or into a dry-well (a drywell is generally a wide and deep hole filled with gravel, used to store excess water.) Weeping tile is installed around the perimeter of the foundation of the home.
If your home does not have functioning weeping tile that drains either into storm sewers or a sump pump, you should think about making an investment in having them installed.
And there it is. Remember, adequate drainage is an essential.
It may not seem like much, but it’s weeks like this that will put your home’s drainage systems to the test. Prior to 1980, weeping tiles and sump pumps were not mandatory, so keep an eye out on your drainage especially if you are living in an older home- as there is a chance it has not yet been addressed.
Article posted by: Dan Kligman, Walden’s summer intern.
Removing walls to create the open concept living spaces that so many homeowners around Toronto are looking for today requires more than just a vision. Working hand in hand with our Structural Engineers, the photo above showcases a Walden Home renovation where the existing structure had to be removed and replaced.
The design process for a project such as this is as follows:
Review existing structure to determine viability
Prepare shoring plan to support structure as changes are happening
Design new structural elements that will allow for the clear spans needed
Note: The clear spans allow for a larger room, inclusive of kitchen, dining room, living space, which is all combined without walls or posts
In this specific project, we are currently in the process of removing all existing main floor and second floor walls and floor joists.
The plan is to add only a very small mudroom on the main floor, while everything else is being worked into the existing footprint, which is only 1,600 square feet, excluding the basement.
Squeezing every inch out of the house requires very precise design. The layer below the visible design is what allows the open spaces to happen. This is a perfect example of top to bottom structural engineering. The basement is underpinned, the roof structure is re-engineered with steel and other structural elements are designed to maximize spans so that dividing walls are not required.
Project Goal: Better use of space, more flexible layout and a more seamless connection between spaces.
December marks the start of winter as well as the holiday season. As we head into these cooler months and the holiday festivities commence, most of us will be gathering inside our homes with loved ones. Use this time of year to redecorate, and make your home more cozy and magical for the winter ahead. If you celebrate the holidays, feel free to experiment and dress up your home into a miniature festival of joy.
The temperature outside may have dropped, but you can still bring some warmth into your home with these simple tips:
1. Deck the Halls
Your entrance and hallways are very important in your home and should not be overlooked. Not only are these spaces the first things you will see when returning home from a long day, but it is also the first thing visitors will see after knocking on your door. These underestimated spaces set the mood for the rest of your home, so go ahead and make your home more festive for the holidays by dressing it up with seasonal décor. Light up your home with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Embellish your banister with Christmas garland, or hang a mistletoe in the hallway for a decorative flair.
2. Fire up the Fireplace
Whether you will be hanging stockings or not, the fireplace is a beautiful centerpiece in every living room. Rearrange the furniture in your home to face the fireplace to create a cozy gathering space, so you and your family can escape the cold outside and appreciate the glow and ambiance a fire provides. If you do not have a fireplace in your home, lighting candles around the room works well to create a cozy atmosphere.
3. Bring Nature Inside
Since you won’t be outside as often during these cold winter months, incorporate natural elements inside the home. Big baskets of wooden logs, pine cones and smooth pebbles will integrate nature into you living room. If you are putting up a Christmas tree, try a natural one. The feel, look and smell of an evergreen tree will add a magical touch to your home. It’s all in the details!
4. Spice up Your Kitchen
The winter months are a great time to gather with friends and family to enjoy a bottle of wine, bake delicious treats, and catch up over a fancy dinner. The kitchen gets a whole lot of use during the holidays, so make sure that it is ready to take on guests and food! Whether you have a separate or open-concept kitchen, there are ways to decorate the space to create a functional, comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere for you and your guests.
5. Add a Splash of Colour
A touch of colour can instantly warm up a room and give it a cozy feel. Avoid the winter blues and lift your mood by adding bright colours to your home. Fire-hued tones such as golds and reds are great for that warm, inviting feeling. Experiment with colour by adding fun pillows and throws that will enhance your room, and keep you and your guests warm.
6. Warm up your Floors
Your hardwood, stone or tile floors are great to keep you cool during the summer months, but can be uninviting and chilly in winter. Having floor coverings helps to keep your feet warm during the winter months, and make your room feel cozier. Invest in rugs with fun textures and patterns to dress up your floors and set the tone for your room.
7. Dress up your Windows
Curtains are important for insulating against the cold, and keeping your home warm. With so many options available, you can choose window treatments that look great and make your room feel warmer. Choose fabrics that work with the décor, and style of each room. You may also want to consider adding an insulated window treatment to keep the cold away.
8. Create a Sleeping Sanctuary
As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, we tend to sleep in a bit longer. Turn your bedroom into a sleeping haven by creating a comfortable space with lots of ambiance. Changing the paint colour of your bedroom is a quick way to give your room an update. Adding calming colours, warm duvets and soft lighting will have you ready to hit the sack!
As the temperature dips lower, bring your focus inward by renovating your home to feel warm and inviting during the winter months. At Walden, we want to help you turn your home into a cozy refuge from the harsh Canadian winter. Contact us to get started today!
Bruce Borden: "I wanted to complete our series of articles on third floor additions with a different point of view. We have talked about the considerations, uses, and benefits of the third floor addition. We have asked the experts. The next question to tackle is, what does the homeowner think of the third floor?
I asked my wife, Catherine Himelfarb Borden, Managing Partner the Yorkville branch of Forest Hill Real Estate Inc. for her thoughts about third floors. Cathy's has over 20 years of experience in the luxury real estate market in Toronto."
This is what Cathy had to say about third floors:
Cathy Himelfarb Borden: "Our clients really appreciate well-conceived third floor spaces when searching for their dream home. Working within the confines of the walls allows one to create extra and necessary rooms while maintaining the property’s original integrity.
Many older properties boast high and grand attics that are under-utilized. By finishing these properties properly, homeowners may be able to build much needed extra bedrooms, home offices, guest rooms or entertainment rooms. For our clientele with teenage children, third floors are often converted to luxurious master suites and serve as a retreat for the adults in the family.
On the flip side, families with young children often would like everyone to have bedrooms on the same floor. In these situations, the third floor additions may be postponed until the day when the space is needed for a growing family, or be used as home offices or guest rooms for out of town visitors.
As for new construction, the necessity of a third floor really depends on the individual needs of the home owner. Whenever we deal with buyers considering building a new home, we recommend that they consult with a builder during their search so that they purchase the right lot for them. These perimeters are the key elements used to narrow and distinguish which properties best meet their needs.
In short, third floor additions are a fabulous way to add space to a home and add value to a property by making it more appealing to buyers due to the possibilities for their use."
The first addition that Walden built back in 1990 was a main floor family room addition to a house on Castlefield Avenue in the Allenby area of Toronto. That was 24 years ago. Nowadays, a family room is sought after for many reasons, especially since it provides a space for casual living because formal living rooms are no longer used in their intended way.
Common uses for family rooms include: watching your favorite TV shows, relaxing, reading, entertaining, playing games, or watching sports. They’re also great for young kids or older children.
Most notably, they are a great way to add value to your home as a family room is one of the most sought after features for prospective homebuyers.
Rooms sizes can vary based on your needs, the size of the lot, and the amount of required additional space. Smaller rooms are 10' x 12', but can go up to 20' x 20'.
Your options aren’t limited to size alone. You can choose to make your addition an open concept space connected to your kitchen. In the homes that I have built for myself, we have had a completely open design and this has worked really well.
You can also choose to separate your family room from the kitchen and treat is as a quiet space with pocket doors. Our current home has a combined kitchen family room that can be closed with two pocket doors.
It’s also nice to have access to the backyard from the family room, with large doors to a patio or deck if possible. Flexible seating is best - family rooms should have lots of light, ideally seating for six to ten people. Whether the TV is a centerpiece of the room or not is a personal choice. Although a fireplace is an optional feature, most homeowners do opt for one.
Built-in shelves for displaying books, artwork, and other decorative elements are also quite popular. Some people like to incorporate a small desk for a computer. There is no single way to approach the design of your main floor family room, the design has to complement the way you live and how you want to spend your time.
The main floor family room is the most valuable option for many reasons. If it is not possible due to space limitations then basement family rooms, second or third floor family rooms are also excellent choices.
Family rooms come in different sizes and shapes, but main floor families are a great idea to consider.
Renovating in Toronto means understanding how to design and build on narrow properties. These narrow properties bring with them many new considerations. Those involved have to consider that side yard setbacks are tight or that many homes share mutual driveways. Sometimes, access to the rear of the property to excavate for an addition can be challenging, especially with added machinery and equipment.
Narrow lots make our job as contractors much more complicated. Whether we are excavating for an addition, installing new footings and foundations on a rear addition, or moving materials, narrow lots take more time and can cost more. Don’t get nervous if you’re planning a renovation on a narrow lot though! Experienced trades, well thought-out planning, and cooperation from everyone involved make it work!
Structural and Zoning Difficulties
If you do happen to live on a narrow lot, here are some things you should ask your contractor about before starting a renovation, as they may complicate the process.
Trees can often be an issue. Tree protection and tree protection zones on a property make moving and storing materials a challenge. This applies to both private and city trees, trees at the front and rear of a property, and trees on neighbouring properties.
Some of the challenges of working in the downtown Toronto neighbourhoods is the close proximity to a neighbour’s home. This proximity can pose structural considerations that we have to contend with. Some issues that we may come to face with a neighbouring property include:
Structural shoring to protect the neighbour’s property
Making sure that the footings are not being undermined
Installing scaffolding in order to install exterior cladding like brick, stucco, stone, or siding. Scaffolding becomes an issue when it does not fit between the home we are working on and the adjoining home.
Building code requires fire protection if an addition or new home is built within 4 feet of a neighbour’s property. Our team of architects and engineers work closely with you to select the most suitable materials. Non-combustible and fire rated elements are required according to the building code, which may limit your options, so speaking to our team will help you find the best matched replacement.
Planning venting for your furnace, hot water tanks and fireplaces are also made much more challenging as considerations for fire safety of your home and your neighbour’s home must be considered.
Do you have more questions about structural considerations when building on a narrow lot? We have answers to your questions here!
Work With Your Neighbours, Not Against Them!
Working with neighbours to inform them and assure them that their property will be respected is very important. Give them advance notice that work is going to be taking place. Your neighbours want to know that their driveway may be blocked for an hour while the bin is getting loaded. Letting people know in advance can ease the relations and keep everyone happy.
It’s also important to remember how close your neighbours are to your home. Making sure debris is cleaned and walkways are not interfered is very important in maintaining a friendly relationship!
Accessing a narrow property is difficult. Moving equipment, storing materials, deliveries, even parking for the trades can be a challenge. The Ministry of Labour has requirements on job sites and one of them is to provide a site toilet for the workers. Making space for these is always an issue - and narrow lots make this more difficult.
The limited space complicates finishing the side walls of a home. Workers need 18 inches to install stucco, brick or siding.
Just like designing narrow homes takes somewhat of a different approach to designing larger more grand scale homes, building new additions and renovating narrow homes on narrow lots also requires a very skilled hand.
The hot, humid weather that is typical of a Toronto summer is fast approaching. After the worst winter in decades here in Toronto, we are sure to be outside enjoying and soaking in all of the sun.
There is one building feature that can help in summer cooling and winter warming: deep roof overhangs. Depending on depth and placement, large overhangs can shade a house in the summer and still allow warm light in in the winter.
In general, a south-facing overhang will direct the sun's rays lower on the window, allowing less light in and preventing that light from heating up the house in the summer. This means less need for air conditioning, less energy used and less money spent.
A good overhang will also allow more winter light to penetrate a building than summer light, thereby allowing light and heat in during the cooler months, which again saves in energy and electricity costs.
Even if you aren't interested in saving money by reducing cooling costs, large roof overhangs provide shelter and help protect a house from bad weather. They can also protect people at the door from wind, rain and snow as well as save doors and windows from bad weather, and protect a house's exterior and foundation from water runoff.
So large roof overhangs are functional and they also look good!
We believe that adding a small addition to the back of your home can add value to your property and turn that family room or kitchen into a terrific living space in your home. They can increase room flow and allow for added elements like kitchen islands or added natural light.
A big part of making a renovation work is getting the new and existing spaces to work together. An addition does not have to be overly large to make a big improvement in how the space flows.
This ceiling was raised by 18 inches, which is a great way to increase space in an addition. In this case, it enabled us to include taller doors or windows along the back wall. These tall windows are the first thing you see when you enter the room. They bring in more natural light and creates a nice connection to the exterior.
First off, what’s the difference? In a tear down, the existing house on a lot is taken down completely. This means the roof, the walls, the floors, and the foundation are completely removed. There is nothing left of the existing home.
In a gut, the house is stripped to the outside walls. Even the most complete gut retains some element of the existing side walls and the foundation walls are maintained. Often, some percentage of the existing walls are maintained. What stays and what goes depends on the exact nature of the renovation.
Even knowing this information, many homeowners are still unsure which route is best for them. Unfortunately, there is no single right or wrong answer to this question. Reasons to follow one route over the other will depend on each particular situation.
While there is no straightforward way to say one route is better than the other, we can explore some of the thinking that goes into making the decision or needs of the homeowners.
Considering the cost
In most cases, a tear down will cost more than a complete gut. The difference in cost varies depending on how much additional square footage is added to the existing home to make it larger. In the long run, things balance out as tear downs are usually worth more when completed than the gut. You are spending more initially to build a home that will be worth more.
What changes do you want to make?
Tear downs usually allow for more flexibility in the overall architecture. The house can be set on the lot based on your needs. It can be lowered to the ground or elevated to allow for more basement height. It can be moved forward or slightly back to take advantage of the grading or other property aspects.
A new home has benefits in allowing for more changes to the space. A new home’s basement is usually upgraded, allowing for more height and better windows. In addition, including a garage in a new home is usually easier than it would be in a gut.
On the other hand, a gut can sometimes allow for flexibility in a different way. The house can take advantage of existing non-conforming elements. For example, leaving side walls permits a house to be wider in some cases. This is an advantage on narrow properties.
Neighbours often find complete tear downs to be more disruptive than complete guts. Most large scale renovations or re-builds require committee approval. At times, in can be easier to get neighbours on your side when the house is not getting completely torn down. The perception is that building a new home will be more disruptive.
Some homeowners want to maintain the original architecture of a home. They want a house that will fit in within the neighbourhood. In these cases, a gut would be the better route. New homes do tend to stand out amongst a street lined with older homes. If maintaining harmony is important, the gut would be the better option.
Have you made a decision?
These are just some of the considerations that need to be thought through before making a decision. We can help you explore these two options to find the best approach to suit your particular needs.
Tear down or gut renovation? Let us know which you’re leaning toward and we’ll help you make the right decision!
You’ve reached a point where the home of your dreams is finally within reach; all you have to do is design it! Over the years your personal taste and style has developed, and you finally know what you like and what you would like to see in the finished product that will be your new home. The real question you should be asking yourself is: do you have everything you need to get started?
Before you can even think about the finished product, you have to master the planning and organization of your new home. Whether you’re building from brand new, or renovating an existing home, how you start your project will be the foundation for your entire build. Here are the key components to get you started once you’ve decided to design your own custom home.
Design and Build
The design (what you want your home to look like) and the physical build (the structure / architecture) of your home are imperative to nail down in detail before you even get started. If you have your heart set on certain elements of your home, such as multiple bathrooms, open concept design, or a custom staircase, make sure these additions are discussed at the very beginning of the planning stages to make sure they are feasible and can be accommodated in your build.
Having your details aligned will allow you to set expectations for your entire project, as well as timelines. Remember: some custom selections will undoubtedly take longer to design and install than other, more standard choices. This is all dependant on just how custom you want your house to be.
Another thing to consider in the design and building stage is who is helping you make your custom dream come true. If you have your eyes set on a contemporary design, make sure your design partners are planning for a more open concept home, with finishing touches that will compliment your desired style. The small details are imperative in the overall finished project; you want to be certain your design partners are guiding you in the right direction.
Once you have your planning stage organized, you may be ready to break ground on your custom home build. But wait! There may be other factors to consider before you get the renovation ball rolling.
First, consider the time of year. While renovating existing structures is slightly different, the general rule of thumb with new home constructions is as such: if the foundation (ground work) is not laid prior to the beginning of December, a large addition or new home project will not be started until early to mid-March. This may change or alter your timelines significantly if the project can not move forward in the winter months.
Additionally, if your current home is being renovated to suit your custom dreams, you must consider how much construction you are willing to live in the midst of, and for how long. In some cases it is possible to utilize half the house, or an upper or lower floor, while the renovations are happening elsewhere. Living in a construction zone may not be possible, or even your preference; however, regardless make sure your living accommodations during your renovation are organized and accounted for as well.
Once your planning is complete, your project is ready to be underway. This is the exciting part! You want to stay as involved in possible, but most of us won’t be able to be physically on site everyday for the execution of our new custom home. That’s where BuildSmart comes in.
Walden’s proprietary renovation process app, BuildSmart, is essentially a project manager in your pocket. Available on your phone, tablet, or desktop, BuildSmart offers transparent, constant access to your project, every step of the way. Follow timelines, check your decision log, and even see daily pictures of the progress of your home. You can even ask questions directly in app, and your building team will get back to you and put your mind at ease. We guarantee this will be your new favourite go-to app for the duration of your project.
Plan With Walden
We want you to love where you live. If that means building an entirely new custom home, just for you, we’d like to help. Download our free renovation checklist to get your project started on the right foot.
Are you in love with this custom kitchen design like we are? Designs like this one always inspire our work and we love to point out key elements so they can help inspire and inform your renovation dreams.
Our team of experts dissect this design from top to bottom:
Waterfall edge on the island.
Countertop and backsplash is a Calcutta Marble.
The cabinetry is stained a rich maple brown that contrasts with the white/light colours of countertop and floor.
The elongated cylindrical fixtures over the island not only provide lighting, but also fill the space without crowding it.
The built-in wall ovens tucked into the corner are well positioned and frame the kitchen. The kitchen has a very quiet, subtle feeling to it.
The drop in counter top gas cooking range is not overpowering and very complementary to the space.
The island is 36 inches wide and 12 inches long and is the central element in the overall design (can’t you just imagine the family and friends gathering and collecting around this space).
Two sinks have been added to this kitchen design. One small sink has been placed on the main cabinet wall for preparing and cutting, with the main sink being centered on the island. This creates two separate work areas in the kitchen and makes the space function even larger.
Concealed kitchen venting hood set included in the cabinetry that is simple and clean looking as well as an exterior mounted blower for the fan that is quiet and powerful.
The island stools are a great feature that would definitely be used and look nice and comfortable.
The built-in seating below the window is a great place to sit, sip your cup of coffee and enjoy the view to the backyard.
Any other elements and/or features jump out at you? Please share your thoughts with us!
Our clients have many reasons to renovate their homes when they first call us. Somewhere, on just about everyone's list, is more closet space. The older homes that we renovate in Toronto typically have very small closets. We are always looking for ways to increase the space in existing closets or add new ones.
This closet was made larger by combining two smaller closets into one large, shared, His and Hers master closet. There is ample single and double hanging space, pull out drawers, open adjustable shelving, shoe racks and more.
Renovating for storage is a great reason to renovate because it allows for an organized home with less clutter, less stress and more enjoyment.
We do not blog about the Walden Homes process very often. Our website does a pretty good job of introducing visitors to our Plansmart & Buildsmart process. However, to switch things up (and because we really like the whole "process" idea), we thought we would give you a glimpse of the initial stages of planning a new home or renovation, à la Walden.
Programming: The programming worksheet pictured above (typically 3 pages) combines space planning, where we use a floor plan of the project area, with a written outline of what our client envision for the home they want to build.This is done very early in the process so the project has a structure.
We generally include a visual or two that are central to the overall vision. These can be elements of the interior, exterior or both. There is also a written outline of functional requirements. These requirements can include anything from home comfort preferences, exterior material cladding, structural consideration, zoning implications and scheduling timelines that form the core from which the project will take shape.
This allows everyone to be on the same page and share a vision for the project. Everyone becomes a team in moving the vision forward.
The next step in our process is the "Project Budget Worksheet". This deals with the financial control of the project.
Stay tuned for our post on this next step of a Walden venture!
Check out this photo of one of our electricians working with an appliance installer on site earlier this week. They are currently in the middle of installing the cooktop and pop up vent into a new kitchen. This type of vent unit will drop down into the countertop and disappear when not in use. It is useful in this application, as it is installed into an open backed section of the kitchen.
Speaking of kitchens, take a look at this great Kitchens of the Future video we love.