Two homes become one


My mom has been living in an apartment next to my sister’s house for the past number of years and the family recently decided to make the two spaces into one communal home. My sister and brother-in-law have four kids and the added square footage has made a huge difference for them. It has been a really big job and, after they opened the wall and refinished the floor, they flew me out to help with the final stage.  My mom and sister are the hardest working women I know and we put a ton of sweat equity into this project. By opening up the wall, several things made a big difference. First my sister’s dining room, which was extremely tiny, became a hallway/entryway/office. They now eat on the other side of the house and cook in the other kitchen. Second, their old kitchen is turning into a kids’ TV/playroom. So all of their toys and board games will go into that room. With these changes rooms that felt really tight began to feel wide open. Let’s start with the old dining room.


As you can see, it was not a very big space for a family of six to eat around the table every night.  


Can you even, y’all?! Before I arrived my sister and brother-in-law took up the laminate, sanded down the original floors, stained and sealed these floors. They are so beautiful. It only cost them $200! 

The walls were painted the same light creamy yellow that was on my mom’s side. It’s hard to tell from the before pic but the antique hall tree was in there, too. It looks so stunning now. It was our beloved Nana’s and it fits so well here.

The desk area is going to be a place for homework and computer tasks. My mom had the legs from an old IKEA desk top and we bought the top from The Home Depot for $50. The space feels huge.

This buffet was in the before pic. They refinished it and moved it to the new side of the house to use as a coffee bar. Okay, one more after pic of the dining room because it’s so beautiful.

The other space was the living room. Before, this space was a TV/video game room, toy room, entryway, and living room. Now it’s just their living room.  



Many things happened in this room, but let’s talk about what we removed to help the space feel much bigger. We moved the bookcases and TV stand into the kids’ new TV/playroom. It helped free up the space by eliminating a lot of visual clutter. Second, they had a huge sectional which they exchanged for a much smaller sofa they found on Kijiji for $100. We also moved the cabinet that was in the entryway to a wall that used to hold their desk, so it no longer divided the room.

I wish I had been able to take a better picture but this is their new sofa. My sister bought new lamps for the living room. If you have ever worked with me, you know that I am really passionate about lighting.  Having the proper lighting CHANGES your room. I would say 75 percent of the time when I am working with a new client they have zero table lamps. If you are looking around your space and you do not have table lamps, get some. They will make your life so much better.

My sister repurposed her old canvas and repainted it for new art. It is so fresh and pretty. The bench was being used as a dining bench but they are going to add a banquette to the new dining area. It fits perfectly under the painting.

It looks and feels bigger and more open now. Let’s look at a close up of a before pic of the new fireplace wall.



I love this wall. Would you believe, besides paint, this wall cost us $20? My sister really wanted to have a fireplace in her new living room. So we kept our eyes peeled on Kijiji and Marketplace. My brother-in-law found this one for free! After it was painted white it was exactly what my sister wanted. The plant stand is really sentimental. This was the kitchen stool in my Nana’s kitchen for our entire childhood. It works perfectly here and now it has a function as well. The blanket ladder was the only thing that cost us anything. It’s an antique wooden ladder and it has the most amazing patina to it. It cost us $20. Everything else my sister already had. The pieces of art are from her two youngest kiddos. The candles and basket she already owned.  

The rooms now feel bright, fresh, spacious, and super welcoming. The most expensive part of this project was opening the wall and connecting the houses. It cost $3500 to open the wall, but the rest of the changes only cost $450. Paint, thrifting, and re-using and re-thinking what they already owned made huge changes to their space for not much money.

I loved being able to help my family on this project. All of our family lives in Ontario, so we have felt super isolated during the pandemic. When my sister and mom asked if they could fly me out to work with them to complete their renovation, I was so glad to be able to go. While this trip wasn’t normal since we couldn’t visit with all of our family, I am glad we were able to hunker down at their home and get a big project finished. My daughter came with me and she had so much fun with her cousins and family, and it was honestly like a balm to my heart. Finishing a big project is always so satisfying and there is something extra special when you get to do it for beloved family.