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Our Peaceful Penfold Project

A brand-new year has arrived and has brought with it a new and exciting project for SJV Interiors!

This project is particularly special because when the renovation is complete, my family and I will be the ones living in the fresh, new space!

Back in the fall, my husband and I decided it was time for a change. We were living in a large, two-storey house on the opposite side of town from where our daughter attends school. Although we loved that house, it was beginning to feel a little too large for just the three of us and the daily commute to get our daughter to and from school was starting to wear thin. So, we took a chance and listed our home and much to our surprise, received an offer the very next day!

Our goal was to choose a new home on the east side of our city so that our daughter could walk to school and be close to her friends. The area where her school is located was developed in the mid 1970's and we quickly discovered that many of the homes on the market were still owned by the folks who built them 45 years ago. In Canada, the 1970's brought a bit of a respite between recessions and home buyers/builders welcomed the lower interest rates. As we looked through the homes, it became evident that the people who built these houses in the 70's took pride in their homes and maintained them thoughtfully and thoroughly over the years.

We chose this little gem, tucked away on a quiet bay in the heart of our desired area.

I’ll be honest, this house was not ‘love at first sight’. As we toured through it the first time, I was a bit overcome with the amount of work that it would require, but over the course of the next few days, thoughts of the house kept coming to me…

“What if we took out the kitchen walls”…

“We could move that patio door over a bit”…

“It faces south and the living room has that huge window”…

“I love that large master bedroom, it has a lot of potential”…

“It’s in such a great location”…

“I really like that fireplace”…

Over the years my husband and I have done minor renovations to the houses we’ve lived in, but this was a chance to start fresh, to take some good bones and create something that was truly ours.

When I was growing up, my parents built 3 houses from the ground up and completely renovated a fourth. To this day, the smell of freshly cut lumber takes me right back to my childhood and I’ve always craved the opportunity to create something that was truly a reflection of me and my family.

The house was built in 1977 by Mr. and Mrs. Bell who lived there until their passing. As I begin to choose paint colours and finishes, I like to picture Mrs. Bell, probably looking chic in a fashion-forward pantsuit, doing the same thing some 40 years ago. Was she excited? Overwhelmed? If she was anything like me, probably both.

The house featured all the typical stylings of the 1970's…

Olive green fixtures:

Heavy, over-sized light fixtures:

Note: I snapped this photo during one of our 'demo days', please excuse the bunny hug (and weird look on my face).

Layers of drapes on the windows:

Note the light fixture in this photo as well! It was three large, glass orbs that each weighed as much as a newborn!

Plywood cabinets:

Note the stove! That baby was the only original appliance left in the kitchen. A top-of-the-line Jenn-Air that likely made 1000s of meals.

And of course, shag carpet and popcorn ceilings:

Although these particular design choices seem foreign and almost laughable now, back in the mid 70's, the Bell’s would have had themselves a beautiful, modern, on trend home.

One of the most interesting features of the house was this ‘raised dining room’:

Many homes in the 1970's featured a formal ‘sunken living room’, which not only provided a tripping hazard, but also created a very low ceiling for any future basement development. It appears as though the Bell’s wanted to fashion their own spin on the traditional sunken living room, and instead, decided to raise the dining area. Fortunately for us, they built it using a false floor over the existing sub floor and it was easily removed to create one, level area (thanks, Mrs. Bell)!

Another feature of 1970’s bungalows was the use of engineered trusses in roof construction which eliminated the need for load bearing walls. This allowed us to remove the two kitchen walls and completely open up the main living area.

With the demolition complete, our attention has turned to rebuilding and transforming this space into a home that reflects our family. Even though the house is stripped down to its most basic form, she’s already starting to feel like home.

Mr. and Mrs. Bell, thanks for taking care of her for all those years. We’ll take it from here.

She’s in good hands.

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