The Hardwood Floors Project

DIYing our hardwood floors for the upstairs was easier than I would have ever thought. It’s labour intensive, but it sure is a rewarding experience once the work is complete. Here’s a step by step tutorial on how we revamped our floors in just a few days.

Step 1

Purchase the hardwood and acclimate the hardwood for at least 48 hours by moving them into the room where they will be installed. Doing so will allow the moisture content to adjust, leaving fewer gaps, cupping, and uneven variations. The temperature and humidity in our house is fairly even so we left ours in the living room. Don’t leave it in the basement or garage where humidity can fluctuate immensely.

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Step 2

Rip out the baseboards and make cuts in the floor with a saw, making sure not to cut too deep so to damage the sub floors. It’ll get dusty, so be sure to wear a mask and goggles.
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Step 3

Using a prybar and a mallet, rip out all the old hardwood and throw them in a few plastic storage bins for easy transportation.
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Step 4

Next comes the tedious part. Using the back of a hammer, pull out all the nails from the sub floor. If pulling out is not possible, hammer them in so that they are flush with the plywood or planks of wood.
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Step 5

Paint the walls and baseboards. We used our old baseboards so we took an extra step with a razor blade and cut all the old caulking from the baseboards and walls.
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Step 6

Lay out wax paper cut to the size of the room and staple them into the sub floors.
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Step 7

Square off the room. Don’t miss this very important step as it will determine how good your room looks at the end!

Step 8

Once you’ve squared off the room, staple the first couple rows using an air stapler.
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Step 9

Use a hardwood nailer wherever possible. We rented a Bostitch one from Home Depot for 24 hours $30 and purchased 2″ inch staples.
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And then…voila!
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Also, invest in closet organizers! They are so efficient and make a dramatic difference!
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Our First Home

We purchased our first live-in home together back in 2012, which was just several floors above a previous unit we had purchased.

Let’s start off with the Before.

Bedroom and den were done with Benjamin Moore’s Gray Cashmere. By now we were pretty sick of the color after having painted three other units the same color. We also installed a custom IKEA PAX wardrobe closet organizer in the den which became a super efficient space storage solution for condo living.


The kitchen, living room, and hallway were first painted Benjamin Moore’s Portland Gray, until we learned that the red in our hardwood floors brought out the reds in the wall color so much that it made the walls look lavender. Not my cup of tea, so we repainted the walls using Benjamin Moore’s White Ice to complement the Gray Cashmere in the bedroom.


Thinking a green washroom would look perfect with the other wall colors, we chose Benjamin Moore’s Antique Glass and later on disliking it and repainting it back to white.


The last thing we did was add a custom brick feature wall to the living room. Here is the before and after.


The Apex Auto Makeover

The husband decided to quit his job as a property manager to rejoin his best friend at his auto mechanic shop. They rented a 3000 square foot unit in Markham, so this became another one of our renovation projects.

At first look of the place, the unit was a disaster. Everything from filthy washrooms, to parquet floors, to extremely stubborn wallpaper, we gutted the entire place based on the mantra “get it right from the get-go.”

This is what it used to look like.

Benjamin Moore’s Wickham Gray was used as the main color in all three areas: the foyer, the waiting room, and the office.foyer

We hired a contractor to do the kitchen cabinets (excuse the temporary backsplash we used, which were made of fancy Bristol board!)kitchen

I chose Benjamin Moore’s Blue Stream as the feature wall for the waiting room. The collage was a piece I put together that accents the company’s logo colors (red, black, white) in various photos of Subarus and parts, which is the type of cars the company specializes in.


The office’s feature wall was painted with Benjamin Moore’s Escarpment, and the doors with Benjamin Moore’s Kendall

The washroom used some of our left over paint which is Benjamin Moore’s Antique Glass, a pretty Tiffany & Co type of turquoise.washroom

And the final item, epoxy floors for the garage area. What a difference it makes (before and after)!


Beware of…Fruit?


There’s no doubt that eating fruit provides health benefits and reduces the risk of many diseases, right? However, there is a problem when you consume too much fruit. Fruit is very high in fructose, especially sweet fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, grapes, and cherries.

Fructose is a monosaccharide (simple sugar), found in most vegetables and fruits which the body can use for energy. Eating too much fructose could block insulin’s ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar for the energy required for processing thoughts and emotions. Consuming fructose goes directly to the liver and can cause high triglycreides leveles as well as heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Don’t stop eating fruits altogether but just pick and choose the healthier, not-so-sweet ones and you’ll be on the road to longevity.

This article also discusses how some fruits can cause miscarriages during pregnancy.

A Rustic Find

Sometimes you’ll find some of the best treasures in the most unexpected places. My best friend found this rustic Coca Cola crate in her condo’s garbage room! She almost decided to sell it at a garage sale before I instantaneously adopted it.

It fit perfectly in our Mobilia side table and has now found its forever home as a storage solution for cat treats and hygienic supplies.

Love rustic!

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Westside Staging

This is Westside Gallery Lofts, situated between King and Queen St. right in the heart of the entertainment district in downtown Toronto. The kitchens are high-gloss Italian made Scavolini brand, but the rest of the finishes such as the walls, the floors and ceilings are about as raw industrial concrete as you will ever see anywhere.

Upgrades include kitchen backsplash, custom paint and lights, and polished concrete floors with a modern epoxy finish. This project by far was the most time consuming of them all.

This was the naked unit prior to any work done.

For the master bedroom, we used Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace.


Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace was also used in the living room, kitchen, and hallways.


We found these beautiful glass tiles for the kitchen, but man were they a pain! We didn’t have the proper cutting tools since the cutting tool we had was for ceramic only so a lot of extra labour was spent on cutting these glass tiles.


Again, we choose Benjamin Moore’s no fail Gray Cashmere for the second bedroom (the color is so pleasing during daylight, isn’t it?)


And finally, Benjamin Moore’s Labrador Blue for the master ensuite bathroom.

For the floors, we asked the builder to leave the floors concrete to maintain the modern loft style. We hired a contractor to polish the concrete but unfortunately, the builder’s poor craftsmanship were emphasized once the work was complete. There were a lot of holes everywhere, which meant the areas that weren’t polished were significantly different in color in comparison to the polished areas. Eventually, we hired another contractor to fill the holes and add a glossy finish. The end result was quite impressive. The first contractor left a whole bunch of swirl marks, but it gave it a very unique look.

Photo credits: Ray Fung


Posh Staging

Real estate flip project number two, Posh is located at the northern border of Toronto at Yonge and Steeles in Thornhill. With 13 stories and 184 units, our 620 square feet unit was fully upgraded with stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, marble tiles, and custom paint and lights.

The before:

Bedroom was painted with Benjamin Moore’s Gray Cashmere, our favorite go-to color for the soothing green hues.


We used Benjamin Moore’s Calm in the main living area, kitchen, bathroom, and hallways.

The unit sold after one month on the market. This is what the place looked like before we decided to repaint the entire unit.

Photo credits: Ray Fung


Centro Staging

This is Centro, a 31–storey condominium located near the Scarborough Town Center in Toronto. Centro was my first real estate flip project. This 580 square feet unit was upgraded with a few pot lights, some painting, and furniture staging. The unit was listed for only 9 days and was sold to the first offer.

The unit looked like this before we did any work to it.


In the washroom, I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore’s Gray Cashmere.

I chose a light color for the main living space given the confined space and selected Benjamin Moore’s Mountain Peak White, which gives a nice hint of warmth.

The den and the bedroom were also painted Benjamin Moore’s Gray Cashmere.

My first project has become one of my most proudest.

Photo credits: Ray Fung


The Antique Key Artwork

Breaking the glass of an IKEA Ribba picture frame had me brainstorming what I could do with it. Always looking for ways to add character to our home, I decided to play with the idea of antique skeleton keys.

Of course, these keys aren’t really antique, but I purchased a lot of 20 on eBay for $20. When they arrived, I spent 45 minutes at Michaels looking for the perfect background paper. I selected a fancy design on velum paper and a plain medium gray scrapbooking paper.

IKEA Ribba Frame $10
Lot of skeleton keys $20
Craft paper $3
Total: $33

The result: a salvaged modern IKEA frame paired with a dash of rustic chic.

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