Making room for baby

Like many Canadians, my husband and I enjoy home renovations. Let’s be clear: we love the final result and see the work as a necessary evil to get there.

So, this next post will take you a little closer to home…well, our home, anyway. While I try to make these posts more about the real estate market, thanks to HGTV, home reno is a bigger and bigger part of the industry. More on this in coming days.

When we found out I was pregnant with our second child, we turned our attention to our third bedroom. It was smaller than the master but bigger than our daughter’s nursery, so we decided that it was the natural step up for her. Plus, the crib was too wide to fit out of the nursery door, so that helped in our decision making.
Here’s the skinny: the room is 10 x 12 with original hardwood floors, 8 ft ceilings and a generous north-facing window. The problem: the room didn’t have a closet. The previous owners decided to move the laundry up to the second floor, blowing out the wall between the hallway linen closet and this bedroom’s closet. (The plumbing shares a wall with the shower.) Overall, we’ve been pleased with this decision, however, kids come with stuff and we needed a place to put it.

The solution: we would build a closet into the room.  

Closet framed and drywalled; walls patched

Now, generally speaking, I’d advise against building out into a room. Square footage and floor space is at a premium and many rooms don’t have room to spare. Also, if done poorly, it could stick out like a sore thumb.

However, by definition, a legit bedroom requires a closet and the room was big enough to support it. Also, in terms of resale value, it’s always more attractive to potential buyers to have more proper storage solutions than less.

The room needed a lot of work. We started by stripping the textured wall paper which wore decades of paint on top. We youtubed a great hack for getting the residual wallpaper paste off the walls with a solution made of water and fabric softener. Worked and smelled great!


Layers of wallpaper and paint

I should mention that the house was built in 1925. It’s a handsome double brick exterior with original plaster in most of the rooms. While I enjoy the old time craftsmanship, experience tells me that over time it loses it’s bond to agents like polyfila and joint compounds. And these walls were covered in it. We spent many hours in there scrapping and sanding down to a smooth texture, trying not to wake our snoozing sweetheart down the hall.

With the walls and closet sanded, patched and primed, we moved on to paint selection. My design vision was a classic, if understated, room for a little girl. We chose the lightest of purple paints called Lilac Frost for the walls while keeping the trim white. I wanted it to feel light and airy. And with the Hamilton market being as hot as it is, you never know when we’re going to put a For Sale sign on the lawn – my husband didn’t want to have to repaint a bold colour down to a more neutral one a little ways down the road.

(While on the topic, we used a one coat paint. Minus a few spots where the roller skipped, it was a great choice and lived up to its promise.)

New closet has plenty of storage and makes a perfect activity nook

For furniture, we went with all white pieces, but brought in a few hits of colour. For example, we painted a vintage mirror frame and the legs of a reclaimed chair we found on a walk in the neighbourhood, with a bold purple. We also brought in a dark but subtle carpet to help balance the lighter wall colour.


The final piece to this room reno was rehanging the door to open against the wall. A personal pet peeve of ours since we bought the house, the light switch was on the west wall behind the door, making it an awkward entry into the room. Also, from an aesthetic standpoint, it also blocked the light from coming into the hallway when the door was open. Now, the entire upper floor is bright and awash in natural sunlight, reducing the need to turn on the lights.

Lessons learned: it’s hard to do renos working around a toddler’s sleep schedule, but knowing that all this work was for her kept us motivated and focused. Now, she has a special place all her own when her brother comes on the scene in a few short months.



Post-construction, sanded and primed




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