House renovation
Before and Afters

An Extreme Renovation on Our Okanagan House

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When The Roof Comes Off You Know It’s An Extreme Makeover

Our home is located on beautiful Okanagan Lake in British Columbia.

The property is unusual in that the main house sits on one side of the road and our cabin and the lake are on the opposite side of the road. It gives us a unique feeling of having two distinct and different spaces, and we love them both.

In The Beginning

When we found this house for sale 17 years ago, the price was almost too good to be true. In fact, we thought the price only included the small run down cabin on the lakeside and so it shocked us to discover it included the house across the road with its huge private back yard.

The Vision

Lucky for us, the original house was ugly enough that nobody else had noticed its potential. Yay us!  When John explained his vision for the house, I struggled to see what he meant. To help me, he made me a cardboard model. (He’s sweet like that.) Once I finally saw what we could do, I couldn’t wait to get started.

We bought in 2003 and began the cabin renovation that fall. Once the cabin was finished we started the house renovation in the spring of 2004 and officially moved into the house in December 2007. Not bad considering most of our renovating was done on weekends. During the renovation we still lived in 100 Mile House, BC, a 3 ½ hour drive north, where we were both still working at our business building and selling log and timber homes.

Finding Our Inspiration

We had spent quite a bit of time in Colorado around this time for work and really loved the timber frame homes we saw there. The rustic mountain lodge vibe we found there was the inspiration we drew on for our new renovation.

Put On Your Work Clothes

Beginning with the design of the renovation, John did most of the work himself with me pitching in wherever I could. (I did a lot of staining.) Our sons James and Steve helped at different times and we hired crews to help us with the big jobs.

Mmm…Orange Shag 

The original house was built in the 1970s and it showed. It had split levels; the ceilings were low; the windows were small and of course there was orange shag carpet downstairs.

Before The Renovation

There were 3 bedrooms upstairs and one in the basement. The master bedroom had a full bathroom and one other bedroom had a small 2 piece ensuite. The middle level was divided in two parts, with one half used as a rental suite with a kitchen and bathroom and access to the basement. The other half had an office space and the laundry room. The backyard had a variety of fruit trees and a once thriving vegetable garden, plus flower beds that were neglected and left to grow wild.

Our renovations included:

  • Removed the roof above the kitchen, living room and dining room to add timber trusses.
  • Combined two upstairs bedrooms into one large master bedroom.
  • Removed the roof above the new master bedroom to add timber trusses.
  • Combined the small two piece bathroom with the master bathroom and added a large walk-in shower and a soaker tub.
  • Extended the master bedroom out over the carport by six feet and added a walk out deck.
  • Extended the kitchen and dining room wall by six feet into the backyard.
  • Added a loft library space above the kitchen. (This had always been my dream)
  • Added custom built kitchen and bathroom cabinets made of Alder.
  • Added granite counter tops with raw edges for our rustic theme in the kitchen.
  • Added marble counter top in the master bedroom.
  • Reconfigured the back steps and added timber railing and with wrought iron spindles.
  • Added a pergola under backyard deck.
  • Re-did backyard landscaping and added a workshop, new raised vegetable garden and log gazebo (great for napping in the hammock).
  • Reconfigured the basement to have a large tv room, a spare bedroom with closet and storage room, a mechanical room and a wine cellar.
  • Replaced all the windows and added floor to almost ceiling large picture windows with views to the lake and all of our backyard. (In fact, if you sit up in the gazebo you can see through the windows in the house all the way to the lake now.)
  • Resurfaced the living room fireplace with natural Arkansas moss rock that we sourced from the US and which at the time, was cheaper than our local rock. Go figure!
  • Added large timber posts around the carport and used more of the moss rock for their bases.
  • John laid a natural stone slab walkway and steps to our front door.
  • Replaced all doors and closet doors with custom solid wood doors.
  • John milled the plank flooring himself, left it indoors to dry and season for one year and then laid it himself. Then we stained and sealed it.
Here We Go!
Tearing out the old kitchen
The tear down begins!
The Fun Part

The most fun of any renovation, I think, is the tear down, but in our case some of the excitement started to dwindle on our 6th or so full container of garbage. We joke that every time we pushed a shovel in the ground, we’d pull out a beer can or two. I mean, we even found an old grocery cart!

So much garbage to remove

Sorry Kids

We were moving along pretty well in the reno when we suddenly realized we hadn’t really planned for any bedrooms in the house apart from the master bedroom. We had combined two small original bedrooms for the master and the other upstairs bedroom we were using for our office. Our original plan was to use the downstairs for the tv room, the wine cellar and the mechanical room and leftover space down there for a large storage room. You can never have enough storage room right?

One day I looked at John and said, “What if one of our kids wants to come home to live for a while, where would they stay?” Doh! So we lost our large storage room and created a spare bedroom instead. I’m glad we figured that out before the walls had been framed in. Phew! By the way, our kids and grandkids have come to live with us at different times so…good save!

The Biggest Challenge

The challenge with this renovation was that we weren’t changing the footprint (much) and we were still working with the original layout (more or less). I think it would have been much easier to rip the old one down and build a whole new house, but really, where is the fun in that?

Roofing and staining. A lot of staining. I’m so glad Steve tackled the outside trusses.

Finishing The Renovation

Once the main structural changes were complete, the new roof was on and all the new doors and windows were in, we could work on the aesthetics. We could hardly wait to have the new stucco replace the swirls of gobbed on stucco popular in the 70s. 

back of house before and after

Last But Not Least

Finally, with the house complete, we could work on the landscaping. We had a lot of the Arkansas Moss Rock left over from the carport columns and our fireplace, so we incorporated the rest into our landscaping.


Extreme Makeover

Sure, this was an extreme renovation, but we’re so glad we did it.  What do you think?

front of house before and after

An Extreme Renovation On Our Okanagan House
Home renovation
Before and After OK House
Whole house renovation

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  1. jill says:

    I can’t believe what a wonderful job you did. I know you both worked very hard to get this
    done, and know you must be thrilled with the finished product.
    I wonder if one day I will get to see it . happy days in your beautiful house.
    much love jill

    1. Thank you Jill. We’d love to have you come and visit us on this side of the world one day. xoxo

  2. WOW…….looks stunning…….on question why didn’t you just rip it down and put up a log home, I know a great builder out there!

    1. Sometimes we wonder that too Keith. Ha! We prefer timber frame over full logs these days. Personal preference.

  3. Anna Zin says:

    Incredible transformation!!! Complimenti to you both and so amazing that you did much of the work yourself.
    Having been lucky enough to be a guest in your home and cottage, I can vouch for the stunning craftsmanship. And that view!! Well done

    1. Thank you Anna. High praise coming from someone who has done some incredible renovating herself. Gracie Bella!

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