amabel beach house

The Amabel Beach House - Bathroom Progress Report

Hey design and renovation lovers,

My last blog post talks all about the changes that we’ve been making in the kitchen at the Amabel Beach House (appliances have since been delivered and it’s looking so good). Today I’m switching gears to walk you through the bathroom progress. I’ve said it before, kitchen and baths sell homes (we all know this), so it’s logical to assume that they rent homes too, right?

bathroom progress 1.jpg

The washroom has been an expensive whirlwind endeavor, but it is starting to look and feel spectacular. We have come a long way from yellow-stained linoleum floors and a filth streaked tub surround, but there have been a few bumps and learning curves along the way. The highest costs came from getting the plumbing up to code and installing an expensive water treatment system to remove the iron from the well wate,r which was staining everything orange. I wanted to protect my investment and also provide a clean and inviting space for renters. In the end, this project is all about their experience, and good reviews will help to boost the bottom line of this new business venture.

LAYOUT:

The biggest change that I planned to make here was to remove the closet from the adjacent bedroom, as it took up a large amount of floor space in the washroom. You only had a few tiny inches to squeeze past the toilet to get to a small vanity. You can see the closet wall jutting out into the washroom in the photo below (to the right of the door frame).

^Closet from the bedroom taking up a large footprint in the washroom. We decided to lose the closet and put a big dresser and hooks in the bedroom for storage instead. At a beach, a full closet in every bedroom isn’t necessary and gaining more room in the washroom was more important to us.

^Closet from the bedroom taking up a large footprint in the washroom. We decided to lose the closet and put a big dresser and hooks in the bedroom for storage instead. At a beach, a full closet in every bedroom isn’t necessary and gaining more room in the washroom was more important to us.

^Before, to stand at this small vanity, you were literally wedged between the toilet and the sink. There was no real counterspace either, and only one person could be brushing their teeth at a time.

^Before, to stand at this small vanity, you were literally wedged between the toilet and the sink. There was no real counterspace either, and only one person could be brushing their teeth at a time.

Taking out the closet really opened up the space and allowed us to put in a nice wide vanity from IKEA, with lots of storage and some counterspace - perfect for renters!.

^The only picture I could find during the demo process was from my instagram story, but you can see how much space we gained!

^The only picture I could find during the demo process was from my instagram story, but you can see how much space we gained!

^Where we are now, looking big, bright and beautiful!

^Where we are now, looking big, bright and beautiful!

To save money, we didn’t really change the layout other than removing the closet. There was a bump out on the plumbing wall by the door that we removed so that the door hinges could be mounted properly, and moved the bump out to the other end of the tub so we could recess a shampoo niche (this adds a bit of a ‘hotel’ like feel). I would have loved to move the toilet so it isn’t right across from the door (which happens to be dead center in the whole cottage), but budget just didn’t allow or make sense for a rental property. I’m using pretty tile and trying to draw the eye out the window outside to distract from the toilet being in such a highly visible spot.

^The horrible toilet location. But the space is so pretty now it’s okay. With income properties, the name of the game is Pleasant and Profitable > Perfect and Pricey

^The horrible toilet location. But the space is so pretty now it’s okay. With income properties, the name of the game is Pleasant and Profitable > Perfect and Pricey

TILE:
Because this isn’t a large space, I knew that I wanted to do a really special natural stone mosaic floor. This type of tile is pricier, so if you are on a budget, it’s best for small bathrooms or powder rooms. I wanted it to have this small area to have a high impact, especially since you see the washroom from all angles of the cottage if the door is left open. I chose a gorgeous sunflower mosaic from Toronto tile shop Creekside Tile. For the shower, I again went with inexpensive ceramic subway tile from Creekside (like I did in the kitchen), and spec’d grey grout to hide dirt (it does, however, emphasize just how unlevel my ceiling is, but that’s okay).

amabel_beachouse_floortile

One important lesson that I learned here is that in terms of labour, you get what you pay for. I hired an inexpensive tiler, and while he did a pretty good job for the most part, I really don’t love the tiny chiclet tiles in the corners, and he did a very poor caulking job with clear caulking.

I spent 4 hours scraping out the clear caulking, 1 hour royally messing up trying to redo with white caulking, another 4 hours re scraping all the new caulking I just did, and then another hour doing it right. Tip for first time caulkers: Don’t use quick dry silicone, use regular acrylic caulking. It won’t last as many years before it needs to be redone, but it will look perfect. Ughhh please, learn from my mistakes and tears here people! Also funny story, I was using a razor blade to scrape the caulking and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why it was so hard…then I realized I didn’t remove the little metal protector on the blade. * Face Palm *

^I was really upset about these little chiclet corners, one of the only times through the whole process thus far I cried. This could have been avoided with some more thought and planning from the tiler. It’s hard to monitor everything when you are 3 hours from site and trying to do things quickly and affordably.

^I was really upset about these little chiclet corners, one of the only times through the whole process thus far I cried. This could have been avoided with some more thought and planning from the tiler. It’s hard to monitor everything when you are 3 hours from site and trying to do things quickly and affordably.

^Example of the horrible clear caulking job done by the tiler that I had to fix…twice.

^Example of the horrible clear caulking job done by the tiler that I had to fix…twice.

^After a few tears and a few hours of scraping (and finally realizing I had to take the little metal protective cover off the razor blah HA).

^After a few tears and a few hours of scraping (and finally realizing I had to take the little metal protective cover off the razor blah HA).

Finally, I managed to get the white caulking done correctly. The white caulking helps the tile to look like it’s wrapping the corners, so the little chiclets almost disappear. Now I think it looks like a million bucks (without having to pay a million bucks), but next time I might invest a bit more in the labour. Or not, since I’m going to try to tile the kitchen backsplash myself haha!

^It looks so much better with the white caulking!

^It looks so much better with the white caulking!

TUB:
Tubs aren’t visually my favourite unless they are free standing and a bonus to a walk in shower. I debated doing a walk in shower here, but the cost didn’t make sense, and I figured that renters with small children might need a tub to wash up the kiddos after a day at the beach. I found this very attractive, stream lined tub at Home Hardware and love its lines. Minimal curves, grooves and edges also means a quicker clean up for the cleaning staff, which is key to keeping costs low in a vacation rental property!

^Tub, sitting here in the demo’d living room, but you get the idea. Clean lines. This is the  Bosca tub by MAXX  and I purchased it at Home Hardware!

^Tub, sitting here in the demo’d living room, but you get the idea. Clean lines. This is the Bosca tub by MAXX and I purchased it at Home Hardware!

MOODBOARD:

Here’s a look (with LINKS!) to some of the items I’m using in the washroom.

That catches you up to speed for now. The washroom is actually one of the least done rooms in the house because we still need to trim out doors, windows and baseboards, but it’s tiny so it shouldn’t take too long. If you’re here because you own (or are thinking about buying) a rental property - I hope this inspires you to remember that if your rental’s bathroom is looking less than pinterest worthy, you may be risking bad reviews and unhappy clients.

Have any questions about the bathroom reno? Ask in the comments section below!
xox
Tiffany

The Amabel Beach House - Kitchen Progress

Hey readers and fellow design/reno dreamers.

Today I’m going to share with you the progress and plans for the kitchen at the Amabel Beach House. I will go through the ‘before’ - what was working, what wasn’t - and the changes we have planned and executed to maximize the rental potential and dollar value of this space.

She’s not finished, but she’s come a long way. Progress shot of the Amabel Beach House.

She’s not finished, but she’s come a long way. Progress shot of the Amabel Beach House.

If you are thinking about purchasing a short term rental vacation property and fixing it up - this is the post for you! Much like purchasing a home, people look at kitchen and bathrooms when renting a vacation home, so it’s absolutely vital that they are pretty, clean and functional.

I would argue that functionality is most important, and for reviews after someone has spent time in the house, this is most definitely true - they will rate you on how well the kitchen was able to meet their needs during their stay. But to really hook a renter and make them dream of staying in your home, the pictures need to sing, and that requires some good design.

Let’s start with a floorplan.

ORIGINAL LAYOUT:

KITCHEN BEFORE.JPG

Pros:
-opening in wall over the sink (plan to make bigger to add in more natural light)
-door to side deck (increase size of side deck to be able to fit bbq, perfect for prepping and grilling on a summer night!)

Cons:
-blind corner, almost unuseable
-very small, dangerous gas stove with exposed gas line and burn marks on small adjacent counter (we will be keeping a gas line in the cottage, but putting in an electric oven to avoid open flames and potential fire hazards for the renters)
-fridge covering door casing, looks cramped and ill fitting
-table in kitchen makes space feel tight and traffic flow awkward, can only seat 3
-peninsula makes space feel cut off and small
-very small sink
-dated colour scheme and cheap finishes
-water stained ceiling

NEW LAYOUT:

KITCHEN AFTER.JPG

In the new configuration, we moved the dining space to the sunroom (where we can seat 6-8 and have a big table for puzzles, games, and family meals) and eliminated the narrow peninsula to really maximize the size of a tiny footprint and max out the number of people who can be in the room at once. This allowed us to move the fridge, incorporate a huge pantry (perfect for renters to store all of their food for the week), and center the stove between the door and side cabinets. Increasing the opening over the sink also made the space feel larger and brings in more natural light.

SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON:
See how much more open and usable the space feels!?

SIDE BY SIDE.JPG

FINISHES:
The plan for the kitchen is to incorporate hard wearing and easy to maintain products and materials, while keeping the costs low.

-simple ceramic subway tile is very inexpensive and looks fresh, using grey grout will help to maintain the clean look
-a mix of metal finishes makes the space feel cottagey and not too serious
-'Montauk’ quartz countertops by Hanstone Canada are a larger upfront cost, but they have a lifetime warranty and will stand up to any careless renters (I will be doing a post about countertops soon!)
-white cabinets (from Home Hardware and Cutler Kitchen and Bath) in a classic profile help to make the space feel larger and airy
-gorgeous brass lighting and convincing wood look laminate flooring to add warmth (will talk more about the flooring in another post)
-open wooden shelving in the corner for display and to keep things light and easy to reach

For the cabinets, I am working with Home Hardware and Cutler Kitchen and Bath, using the Lindsay line of cabinets. These come flat-packed (similar to IKEA kitchen cabinets), where you have to build the boxes and attach the doors. The price point is really excellent for a rental kitchen, and the look is great - the simple shaker style door is a classic that will never go out of style. I will be doing a more detailed post on the cabinets later, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to build and install, and they look like a million bucks!

PROGRESS PICS:

The kitchen before was dated, ill functioning and had a lot of wasted space. The fridge covered part of the door, there was a strange electrical box in the middle of the wall, and the carpet was unsanitary. The popcorn ceiling was brown with water stains and the cabinets were full of mouse droppings!

The kitchen before was dated, ill functioning and had a lot of wasted space. The fridge covered part of the door, there was a strange electrical box in the middle of the wall, and the carpet was unsanitary. The popcorn ceiling was brown with water stains and the cabinets were full of mouse droppings!

A bit of the demo done and you can really see the carpet in all its glory!

A bit of the demo done and you can really see the carpet in all its glory!

The new drywall is up and painted (Beauti-Tone’s ‘Here Comes the Bride’), and the opening over the sink has been enlarged! Ceiling are planked and painted.

The new drywall is up and painted (Beauti-Tone’s ‘Here Comes the Bride’), and the opening over the sink has been enlarged! Ceiling are planked and painted.

Flooring in, cabinets started!

Flooring in, cabinets started!

We are really getting there! Countertops are in now too but I need to save something to keep you coming back for more! Backsplash, shelves, hardware, appliances, and styling all still to come!

We are really getting there! Countertops are in now too but I need to save something to keep you coming back for more! Backsplash, shelves, hardware, appliances, and styling all still to come!

KITCHEN AMENITIES TO BOOST RENTAL INCOME:
-Dishwasher (major bonus points! more and more renters are looking for hassle free living, plus, a dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand, so its a win win)
-Pantry (ample storage)
-Quartz Countertops - heat, stain, and scratch resistant, low maintenance, and LUXURY
-High end, well designed look that will photograph well and attract renters!

Also importantly, all mouse poop and gross carpet in the kitchen has been removed - so that’s a major plus too ;)

I hope some of these tips and tricks will help inspire you on your own journey with renovations, especially if you are renovating an income property. I can’t wait to share the final kitchen reveal with all of you!


Disclaimer: This post contains sponsored products from Home Hardware. All opinions are my own. I would never promote or endorse a product I do not fully believe in and wouldn’t pay for with my own money.

YOU BOUGHT WHAT AS YOUR FIRST HOME?

HOW A YOUNG TORONTO WOMAN WAS ABLE TO GET ON THE PROPERTY LADDER BY THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX - AND OUTSIDE THE CITY 

Pictured Above: My new house. Let's call this the 'BEFORE' shot, shall we?

Pictured Above: My new house. Let's call this the 'BEFORE' shot, shall we?

On May 11th, I purchased my very first home. This is huge for me - I never thought I would be able to live in Toronto and be a solo home owner by the age of 27.

In 2012, I moved to Toronto and risked all of my money on the tuition for my Bachelor of Interior Design degree. I lived in a home with five other renters, and made my room into my sanctuary, treating it like a tiny 'studio apartment' sans kitchen. If you've been following me since the beginning, you may remember that little room, which was featured on The Everygirl.

Pictured above: My first apartment, as seen in The Everygirl. Photography by Anna with Love.

Pictured above: My first apartment, as seen in The Everygirl. Photography by Anna with Love.

Before graduating, I landed my dream job at Sarah Richardson Design. I moved downtown into a beautiful old one bedroom apartment to be closer to work, again taking a risk by stretching my finances to pursue my career goals. This apartment has served me well, and will continue to do so for at least another year. It was featured on Style Me Pretty Living, and it is still a major a source of joy in my life. During my first 2 years in my new apartment, I scrimped and scrounged was able to pay off my student debt and begin building up my savings account again.

Picture above: My current apartment, as seen on Style Me Pretty Living. Photographed by Mike Caringi for 515 Photography.

Picture above: My current apartment, as seen on Style Me Pretty Living. Photographed by Mike Caringi for 515 Photography.

And last month, I took those savings, threw caution to the wind, and bought a house all on my own.

Here is the catch - the Toronto housing market ain't cheap (understatement of the year), and instead of going the traditional route, I decided to purchase a vacation rental as my first home. I began looking for cottage listings in the Muskokas and Kawarthas, but soon realized that most waterfront properties were out of my single income budget - and non-waterfront cottages in these areas would be far less appealing to renters. Then I got an idea. Growing up, my family rented a cottage down the road from a big beautiful beach. My boyfriend's uncle owns a cottage that we all love visiting about a block away from clear waters and sandy shores. Our good friends have a cottage in the woods close to that same beach. It didn't take me long to narrow down my search area to Sauble Beach, a pretty, family friendly beach town on Lake Huron and near Owen Sound. Here, although freehold properties are scarce (much of the land is leased Native Land), I noticed that the prices were reasonable within a very short trek to the beach. The beach is large, calm, and boasts some of the best sunsets in the world. Who doesn't love packing a cooler and heading down to the beach for a day of fun in the sun? I did some research and saw that summer rentals in the area were going fast, and were going for rates that would help to cover most (if not all) of my mortgage.

sauble_beach_amabel_beach_house_tiffany_leigh.jpg

I looked for about 4 months, relying on my very helpful realtor Donna (DM me for contact details if you are looking!), and finally found the cottage of my dreams. It is definitely a fixer upper, but it has the potential I was looking for and I wanted to sink my teeth into a healthy project. Most importantly, it was less than a two minute walk to the beach and a seven minute walk to the main drag in town. The property is freehold and was listed for $260,000. It had been on the market for only one day when I submitted my low ball and conditional offer of $240,000***.

My saving grace - I said I would clean out everything that was inside it. It was an estate sale, being sold by an older niece and nephew and was full of the former owner's belongings. This is what sealed the deal! To my surprise, they accepted my offer within an hour!!!
**Yes, I am sharing my real life numbers with you guys in an effort to be transparent and to inspire people who may be thinking about doing the same thing. I want you to have a true understanding of what is involved!

Today, I'm sharing the before pictures. Be warned - they are a bit scary. This is a no holds barred look at how the house looked when I got the keys on May 11th, 2018!

amabel_beachhouse_before_sunroom

The sunroom was an addition and is actually in really good shape, although it's a little overly 'pined' for my tastes. I think I will keep the pine ceiling as is and paint the walls. I'm so excited to announce that I've teamed up with Beauti-Tone Paints by Home Hardware for the beach house and I can't wait to show you all of the beautiful tones I've selected for the whole cottage. This area will act as the entry as well as the dining space on the end near those mirrored closet doors (which will be swapped out for something a little more classic).

amabel_beachhouse_livingroom_before_1
amabel_beachhouse_livingroom_before_2

Wait...is this a set from That 70s Show? Nope just my new living room! It's on the smaller side but has lots of potential, and I love the open concept. It needs some serious lipstick.

amabel_beachhouse_kitchen_before_1
amabel_beachhouse_kitchen_before_2
amabel_beachhouse_kitchen_carpet_before

Yes, that is carpet in the kitchen...ick! Don't worry, this whole space has already been gutted. Also, what is that teeny, tiny range?! We are completely redesigning this space to a much more functional layout- I can't wait to share more.

amabel_beachhouse_before_bathroom_1
amabel_beachhouse_before_bathroom_2
IMG_2089.JPG

The bathroom is tight, and let's face it - just plain gross. A closet from the bedroom was jutting into the space, leaving almost no room for the vanity. We've ripped that out already too and I can't believe how much bigger the space feels! Also, stained linoleum (from the glue, but it looked like urine), and a very dirty tub means that this space is being completely redone.

amabel_beachhouse_before_bedroom1
amabel_beachhouse_before_bedroom2

The two bedrooms are small but simple and functional, new furniture and paint will go a long way in here. There is literally retro wallpaper on almost every wall in the cottage!

I know we have a long road ahead of us (and by we, I mean myself, and my amazing family and boyfriend who are being dragged into my crazy adventures - I lure them with the beach and then put them to work). Asbestos tile was found under that lovely shag carpeting (but beautiful original pine underneath that!) so the asbestos abatement is happening this week, and while we are at it we are ripping out all of the old peeling ceilings. There was a significant amount of evidence of 'mouse' activity as well, so we are starting fresh with the attic insulation too. After this week - I'm hoping it will be full steam ahead!

If you aren't already following along, check out my instagram @tiffanyleighdesign, and the beach house's new exclusive instagram page @amabelbeachhouse, to follow along with the renovations! I also hope to be sharing weekly updates here on the blog! I've missed you guys.

xox
Tiffany