When we moved into R.E.D. by the Sea a little over a year ago, we felt she was perfect just as she was.  The previous owner had presented the space is such a charming manner …painted white throughout…allowing her things to speak.  We fell in love with the simplicity.  

The home inspection confirmed a solid envelope.  Little things needed correcting he said but these we could easily do ourselves.  

Energy tests showed that we were a few points more efficient than a new build…surprising for our eighty-eight year-old gal.

The roof we knew would have to be replaced in a few years but being a vital part of a secure envelope and with the couple of nor’easters we had last year, we decided not to wait, so a new metal roof is in place that will last well beyond our life-time. There have been other smaller improvements…water treatment system, storm doors (more nor’easter lessons) and a heat pump which we love!

With R.E.D. securely resting in her new driveway spot for the winter, it was time to work on the Crow’s Nest.  

Look at that perfectly cured concrete pad just begging for the rest of the ‘he-she-storage-greenhouse-shed’.


….there’s always a but…

So here’s the story.  One day after using the bath we noticed bubbling of the ceiling downstairs in the kitchen.  Not a good sign and to add a little stress, it was just before guests from away were to arrive!  So, fast forwarding to present time, it turned out there was a small leak in the bath’s hot and cold water lines.  

There were plans to make minor changes to the main bathroom anyway ….the toilet was old….and I had a few ideas decor-wise…you know, nothing major.  It was quite lovely as it was with that old country home kind of charm all of which I wanted to retain.  Just add a little something more to make it ours.

If we were going to have the leak fixed, why not change the toilet at the same time.  And if we were going to change the toilet, why not change the flooring.  Well then, if we were going to change the flooring then I’m sticking my design foot in the door and adding my ideas to the reno pot.  You can see where this is going can’t you?  And since Francois is Mr. Builder in this home and since he can’t be in two places at once, the decision was made to concentrate on the bathroom and leave the Crow’s Nest build until spring. (Squeee!!!…Kat’s project is officially in motion!)

As I mentioned, there was nothing at all wrong with the bathroom design-wise. The fixtures kept with the loveliness of days gone by. 

I love the claw foot tub with the chrome feet, and chrome and porcelain faucet/shower combination.

The console sink is a beauty too…maybe not the most practical but really pretty.  The previous owner had such good taste.  

So that’s your tour of what was.  Small….barely 8’ by 7’….and with the sloping gabled roof, it left precious little space for storage.  We try to be minimal with our possessions but even minimalists have needs for the basic conveniences. 

As with any reno project I’ve done, it’s fun to create a mood board which helps to bring concept ideas together while still allowing for flexability during the process.  It’s a guide that also helps with budgeting.  I was given a general dollar range and was determined to come within it.

On to demolition day…

With the tub, sink and toilet extracted and resting happily outside in our yard (what will the neighbours think?), Francois started removing the vinyl floor tiles.  Forty-five minutes later, this was his progress…one tile.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, the plumber was due in four days to install the toilet because we had another guest-visit for the weekend the following day and we needed to have at least the toilet part of the flooring done by then.

I called a friend who is a tile expert for some help and he gave us really good, time-saving advice.  Leave the floor ‘as is’ and screw  quarter-inch plywood on top for a solid substrate.  Easy fix!  Thanks so much Travis!

Nothing in an old house is square so trying to make everything level is tricky. The fun part (sarcasm) will be to make it appear straight.  I have confidence in you Francois. 

Thankfully the weather has been typical-east-coast-mild so working outdoors has been possible.  Dancing between bouts of rain was tricky but all the cutting is now complete.

I’ve finished the tub painting…three coats of mat black was more than enough and it rested happily upside down in the middle of our living room waiting to be installed….the only logical place, don’t you think?  

There’s not much a little elbow grease and baking soda can’t clean.  Just look at all of that sparkling shiny chrome,  good as new!  When the plumber dropped by to check on our progress he asked if we had bought new fittings.  Insert proud Kat moment here.

Back to the flooring story….yet another addition to ‘if we change the floor, we might as well… So the small baseboard radiator was removed and floor coils with thermostat installed for radiant heating.  Another simple fix.

Wainscotting was installed to add some texture so now to get on with flooring. If time allowed it would be preferrable to finish the tiling and grouting, then replace the baseboard, then paint, but plumber day was fast approaching and we needed that toilet installed (at the very least) before the weekend guest arrived so just the toilet space was grouted for now.

In the meantime my part of the project was on hold.  With such a small space in which to work, if the two of us were in there together, probably only one of us would come out alive…so I handed things, unpacked things, made countless trips to the hardware store for supplies, shopped for accessories and, the hardest part for me otherwise was to stay out of the way.  Oh, and I assembled the new vanity.  Let’s hear it for more storage!

Dan the Plumber did such a good job!  Just showing up gave him a five star rating in my books and he more than exceded our expectations.  Great communicator, great service, creative and really nice all in one package.

Now on to more flooring.

I found the perfect tiles for this space a couple of months ago but when we decided to purchase, there was a lady who was there ahead of us buying up what we thought was the last in stock.  The tile guy told us to wait and he would see if he could get us more.  Thankfully he did and we cleaned the store out of all they had hoping it would be enough.  Imagine  that wee moment of panic when the flooring was almost finished and we realized we were two square feet short.  So I quickly went online and found two more.  Whew! Disaster averted!

Welcome to our new favourite room…

Many years ago, Francois asked me to put together a concept for our condo bathroom…a spa experience, like a boutique hotel he said.  In spite of its small size it turned out to be a little haven with deep soaking tub, rain shower, white fluffy bath towels hanging on their heated towel rail.

I get that bathrooms are mainly functional beings but it elevates these simple rooms to another level when you add a little extra imagination so that when you open the door you feel ‘ahh’.  This one at our little home by the sea makes me feel that way.  The site line from our bedroom makes me smile…  

The curtains make me smile. The ideal complement.  Just enough.  Not too frilly.  Like a bow on a present they serve no real purpose. Just enough for a little bit of ‘pretty’…

The indulgent porcelain ‘cat’ toilet brush makes me smile. I mean, why would’t it?…

The minimal with a blend of the new……and the old…the just enough space for essentials..

…the local art with a little seaside charm thrown into the mix. It all makes me smile.

And when I fill up that pretty bathtub with lavender bubbles, put on some of my favourite tunes, pour a frosty martini and step in, I smile.  This little, rather ordinary bathroom is no longer just functional.  It has become a retreat.

And as with any of our renovation projects…condo…even on the boat…we add a little something of ourselves, a symbol of successful team work and love, hidden for any future owners to find.  So before closing the wall, Francois left his mark.

There you have it.  One project completed.    When you think of it, this had all the elements of building a house…flooring, drywalling, electrical, plumbing, decorating…of course on a small scale…but still.  We planned it so that we would still be happy with the look several years down the road…maybe forever. And on final calculations I was way under budget.  

This project has wakened the design demon in me but the focus has to be on the Crow’s Nest for now….although it doesn’t mean I can’t dream and research and plan does it?  I have one major project in the concept stage that spans both boat stuff, creating, designing and lots of things I love…


…no spoiler alert from this Galley Kat….


Thanks for dropping by.  You can always count on us to have something new coming down the road.

For those reading this in a language other than English, please forgive the automatic translation.



Wildling moments, AKA (also called) time with the grandkids.  I decided to make this a blog story instead posting a bunch of pictures on social media.  It was a bit of a milestone…an event worthy of more than just a few pictures.  Two of our little wildlings will be spending their first ever over-night away from their Mom and Dad.  Truly a treat for us…for the kids… and for sure for their parents.

It involved pick-up at day-care. I won’t get into the details but grandparents aren’t pre-wired to install new fangled car seats with all of the ‘rules’.  It took Francois the better part of a half hour to make them secure.  Driving back to R.E.D. by the Sea was fun.  We took the shore road instead of the highway, a beautiful ride with so many “I spy” options.

Dinner was an event (everything is an event with these two) finishing with the bribe (if you eat all of your dinner there will be ice-cream”). Good to know that what worked for my kids still applies today.  

The in-depth discussion followed: “so Gramma, exactly what’s wrong with eating an icecream cone with a big wooden spoon”?

And the discussion went on…

…and on…

…until the focus turned to a tiny spider in the light fixture, which brought on a rousing rendition of “there was an old lady who swallowed a fly”.

Dinner and dessert cleared away, the table became a staging ground for trains, trucks and helicopters.

…with that moment when a child discovers the magic of same-pole magnets.

…followed by a little calming post-dinner/pre-bed story time by the fire with Gramma.

“Moana” was the movie of choice with a bed picnic of popcorn and Christmas milk (AKA egg nog)

Impromptu  bedtime stories continued well after the lights went out.  

The light of the full moon shining through the window made for some very interesting versions of the Three Little Pigs and in the silence I could hear the whispered voice of a three-year old counting sheep up to one-hundred.  

We all slept with the angels tonight.

Morning came early with more trains and trucks guided by camp lights…because turning on the room lights would be boring.

Another successful meal.  Breakfast of Gramma’s waffles with yogurt and maple syrup dipping sauce.

Followed by more stories from Papa while we waited for Momma and Dad to return.

When it’s all over there’s always a wee touch of sadness…

…but it’s now time to re-set, crank up the tunes and get back to work on our next project.

You know by now that you can always count on us to have much more to come for sure.  

Thanks for stopping by.

For those reading this in a language other than English, please forgive the automatic translation.



Here we are heading into the half-way point of our the last full fall month of 2018.  R.E.D. has been fully winterized and sits within view from our back door.  There have already been a couple of frisky rain/wind storms pass through and her ingloo structure has held fast.

Winter Tarp

We are now focusing on chores around the yard, clearing out the garden and putting things away for the months to come.  If this year’s Farmers Almanac is correct it should be another mild winter for us on the east coast but Mother Nature could have a few surprises for us up her unpredictable sleeves.

Francois has been busy clearing out ‘the wild’ that grows up during the summer and Duck Pond now looks much cleaner and fully replenished after the rains.  We are seeing our little bird friends return so he has stepped-up feeding too, taking care of his ever-growing family.

Each season seems to bring more varieties.  To date we’ve identified over a dozen species, two different types of ducks, three sorts of woodpeckers.

One of the ‘Girls’

The crows are now a morning fixture, usually three on the ground and one keeping watch in the nearby tree.

Morning Visit

Furry friends like chipmunks are less common now, but the red squirrels have become much bolder house guests.


Duck Pond saw three different families of ducks come and go this summer.  Our favourite, Maude and Harold produced seven duckings and we watched them grow and depart.  For some reason, word has spread and we can’t be in the yard without a grand parade.

Ducks on Parade

The other day I sat on the deck step and these ‘quackers’ came waddling up within a foot of where I sat.  They seem to recognize our voices now and when we return home in the car they wander up the hill to greet us.

New Couple

The new couple on the block is this Mallard pair.  We’re calling them Méli and Mélo….our ‘miscellany’ couple.

A Box Full of Jays

To make winter feeding easier Francois made these toppers for my two plant boxes making the feeding frenzy each morning so entertaining.

Duck on the Deck

Even though we aren’t really supposed to feed the ducks it’s impossible to keep them away.  Our winters are usually mild and as we noticed last year they stayed all season so maybe including them isn’t such a bad thing.

Feeding Trough

They now have their own feeding trough down by Duck Pond…because my dear ‘birdman’ loves the company when he’s out clearing the yard.

Duck in a Box

But when the trough is empty  they have no problem finding more options.

Like Herding Cats

Discipling a duck isn’t an easy task we’ve found.

Ducks Unlimited

What have we done?  Fortunately they are learning to share and within a short period of adjustment our backyard menagery was back in balance.


Post Script: since I started writing this post we’ve had to remove the toppers for the planters after the smaller birds have finished dining because our duck friends have become too bold…and abundant…at times almost two dozen.  They will have to make do with plant life from the pond and garden slugs and from time to time a sprinkling of cracked corn.

Thanks for stopping by. There will be more news to come from our home by the sea as we head farther into fall and the blustery winter months to come.

For those reading our story in a language other than English, please forgive the auto-translate.