a long story of heroic achievement, a long, involved story, account, or series of incidents

This is Stoneleigh.   

Stoneleigh. Day One.

And this is our Stoneleigh saga.  A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a stone home in Guelph, and bring it back to life came our way out of the blue — as most great adventures do — and we jumped in two feet first.   There’s no looking back now…

This page is a place for us to share our restoration journey and photos with our family and friends, but also a place we can visualize the progress over the next year.

On the first day, Arni and his trusty sidekicks (an Estwing hammer and whammy bar)  opened up the front hallway.  The hallway had been filled in with a coat closet, so the only way to get to the kitchen was through the dining or living room.  Solution?  A sledgehammer.

Once the hall closet was opened up, the light came flooding through the house.  The flooring was already there underneath to carry through the hall.  This photos is looking towards the front of the house from the kitchen.


It just got messier and dustier after that.  Thankfully, on our first full demo day, we had lots of help. Thanks David, Sue, Kristin!  Alison, Ieva, Brad, Lyndsay, Claudia and Bryan came by to laugh (and brought cards, treats and flowers)!  Lloyd and Todd took up the hammer too.  Thanks guys!

The strippers. Thanks Kristin and Sue!

Oh, and did I mention that I broke out with poison ivy all over my face the day we got the keys?

Although we are starting the renos with a whole lot of destruction, we do actually have a plan!   There’s the cosmetic stuff, like stripping wallpaper (every room) and ripping out the old carpet (including the bathroom, yuck!) and painting.   And the yard.  And the floors.

But the first (and biggest) project is the kitchen.  It was created in 1973 (based on dated signatures we found inside the walls), and is claustrophobic.  The west wall window was closed in and the ceiling was dropped.  Cabinets were in decent shape, but they hung too low from the ceiling.  They are off to the ReStore to find a new home.

Getting ready to take down the kitchen. The ceiling is so low that Arni can touch it.
Uncovering the layers.
Our friend and local MP, Lloyd Longfield, came by for a swing of the sledgehammer. I wonder what political opponent he had in mind when hitting the wall?
Revealing the layers. I love finding treasures like this — it’s a reminder that we are merely stewards of the heritage of this home.
Thankful for Todd and his mighty hammer.
End of Day Three.



Mikey’s here! Roofer and all-around-great-guy Mike is installing a new roof.

A new roof was on the list of first-things-first.  Thankfully, friend (and roofer) Mike had time to fit us into his busy schedule.  A few hiccups on day one (shingles couldn’t be delivered to the roof due to hydro lines) but the job has started.  Saturday was a write-off due to rain, but being a great guy, Mike gave us some valuable help using a shingle-remover shovel to remove flooring in the master bedroom.

The plan for upstairs flooring has evolved.  The original plan was to install new hardwood over whatever we found under the carpet.  But wait!  Under the carpet was linoleum, and under the linoleum was fibreboard, and under the fibreboard was the original pine flooring!  Change of plans!  New plan:  refinish the original floors and bring them back to life.

Handy with a shovel.
Why would anyone cover up such beautiful original flooring?



We are at the end of Week One!  The kitchen is back to the bare walls, and the plans have changed slightly.  We are going to leave the back wall of the house exposed to the stone in the kitchen.  The stonework is just too nice to cover up, and the beam above the back door has so much character.

The kitchen at the end of Week One. The window is open! A replacement traditional wood sash window to match the rest of the house is on order with Taylor Giberson, a local traditional heritage window specialist.
The back stone wall and timber beam lintel above the door are going to stay exposed. So much character.



Due in part to great marketing, there’s a tendency to believe that a new modern double-glazed vinyl or aluminum window is better.  But a good old-fashioned wood sash window is just as efficient (or more) and can last well over 200 years if cared for properly.

Enter Taylor Giberson.

Taylor is our go-to guy for restoring the original windows.  It’s a specialized skill (art, really) and requires a belief that the original builders knew what they were doing.  Long painted (or caulked or plastered) shut, our windows are opening again.

The north kitchen window was framed in, but the original millwork was intact underneath. After removing 1970s capping, Taylor worked his magic.
The master at work.
Still life. Tools of the trade.



As we swept up debris in the partial darkness last night around 11 pm, I’ll be honest, I felt overwhelmed and discouraged.  So far, we’ve been focused on destruction.  Plaster dust, fibreboard, sawdust and nails are everywhere.  It’s like a bomb went off.   We didn’t go into this renovation starry-eyed, so the many delays and changes of plan so far haven’t dampened our spirits too much.  We remind each other often to “focus on the end goal”.   Really, we are only on week three, and we’ve done a hell of a lot.  Demolition doesn’t feel like progress, but it’s a necessary step before putting it all back together.

This is the chaos otherwise known as “the bathroom”.

By the end of Week Three, the focus had shifted to the bathroom, primarily because plumbing is the number one domino in getting the house is liveable condition with Moving Day fast approaching. As we have come to expect, no task is as easy as we thought.   Bathroom prep consisted of removing all flooring, taking down walls, ceiling and removing old pipes.  But it’s done!   We took a day off of having plaster dust in our hair and headed out to shop – lights, sink, vanity, bathtub, floor tile, wall tile and more!  We ended up in Toronto – Dunlop Plumbing, Gingers, Union Lighting — and finished the day at Mustafas for Mediterranian food.  Yes, a good day’s work deserves a good meal.

This is only funny because the two toilets are the “Bradley” and the “Cooper” (my son and my dog).  We chose the “Cooper” pooper.
I love, love, LOVE our new concrete sink for the bathroom!  And it was on clearance sale!!
Floor tile (hex on right) and wall tile for the bathroom.
The bathroom is a blank canvas now.  Ready for new sub-floor, new walls, and plumbing.  Baby steps!



The countdown is on – moving date is booked for December 13.  We are running out of time and the prospect of a Christmas with no kitchen is very real.  The biggest priority right now is getting the kitchen wall down.  A few delays along the way have halted progress — engineering drawings, building permit application, waiting, waiting, waiting.

Our go-to reno guy is Mark Rayner ( – and he’s is amazing.  This week he’s working on the structural beam that will replace the wall, which involved digging a footing through the basement floor.

Hole for new footing for support beam in basement. The not-so-glamourous side of renovations.  Hole courtesy of Mark Rayner, Rayner Renos.

Still no building permit from the City!  Waiting is driving us crazy and as we need to get this effing wall down soon.  Trying to follow all the rules.


December 13, rain or shine, electricity or not, was Move-In Day!   Needless to say, the big time gap in this online saga is because we have been heads over heels immersed in renovation work to make Stoneleigh liveable, and maybe even (fingers crossed) have family over for Christmas…

The moving truck arrived on December 13 at the crack of dawn.  Best moving company in town – Mike the Mover – on time, on budget, and with a smile and sense of humour on a cold winter day.


It’s 2018!  So much has happened…so rather than try to narrate in words, I will let the photos do the talking.

Opening up the main floor – stairs, dining room, ceilings.  Dusty.
A typical day at Stoneleigh – a parking lot of contractors.
Removing damaged flooring from master bedroom meant we could see through the floors from the kitchen to the master.  Peek-a-boo.  Notice the old knob and tube wiring between the joists.
Same location, from above.  Looking from master bedroom through to kitchen.


One of the best decisions we made at Stoneleigh was to leave the back stone wall of the kitchen exposed.  Burpee Stonemasonry cleaned up the mortar to bring it back to life.  The hue of local Guelph limestone is a warm amber tone, and makes the room unique.
The finished kitchen stone wall.
Removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room was another big decision.  Tacoma Engineering did the drawings, building permit received, and the new footings and structural beam in place…now it’s time to bring the wall down.   Guess who took the first swing?


This is just a cool view through the floor of the master bedroom down into the kitchen below.
Down to the original stone, now it’s time to reconstruct, add electrical and build a new kitchen!
A view from the kitchen into the dining room.
There’s something quite beautiful about the patina of the old radiators.
Refreshing the old radiators.  Three coats – Tremclad metal primer, followed by two coats of melamine.
How many different shades of blue-grey are there?  Turns out the answer is infinite. We settle on “Moonlit Snow.” Can you tell which one that is?
Master bedroom walls are primed and ready!
The floors are sanded – what a difference! Harri Palm is the best!  Four passes with the sander and the results are amazing.  This is the back bedroom.  We have to remove the rads first, paint them, and then finish the walls behind the rads…
Remember the damaged floor in the master bedroom.  Harri replaced with aged pine and sanded the area so that it is seamless.  Wow, so impressed with his work…



When we first moved in, we didn’t intend to do the bathroom right away…but that soon changed and it became a full demolition.  The layout was all wrong.  And we both realized that, at the end of a long day, a nice bath is essential.   The ceiling was removed, walls, insulation added, new tub, new everything.



The tub has arrived and it’s a perfect fit!
Radiant heat floors, and laying out the tile.  Beau and Chris from Anchorstone did an amazing job of arranging the tile to take advantage of the colours and patterns.


Bathroom is almost finished!   The tile is so much better than either of us anticipated!  Thanks Beau and Chris at Anchorstone for the installation – an amazing job!



The kitchen goal is ever-changing.  The goal for December was to be able to cook Christmas dinner.  The definition of “cook” is open.  Take-out.  Microwave.  Wings at the Wooly.

The wall is gone, drywall is up, radiant heat flooring is going in, and cupboards are being assembled.
Our makeshift temporary kitchen.


It’s hard to tell, but this future island is actually quite brilliant.  The stove, dishwasher and loads of cupboard and counter space is all part of the design.
Another room almost finished.  The Dining Room plaster work needed a bit of a touch up to save the plaster ledge.  Thankfully, Arni learned a few things from his dad and he joined the bottom wall to the plaster ledge seamlessly.
Joining the drywall edge to the stone — skillfully done with plaster.
“Man with hawk.”