Renovation & Design

A house reimagined, a friendship revived

Four-month expansion project brought old friends together

Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

The majority of the 300-square-foot addition is the new kitchen, showcasing new cupboards, countertops, lighting and flooring.

This past year was a busy one that included several deck projects, individual bathrooms and a few kitchens, as well as a slew of other miscellaneous residential and commercial jobs.

The most memorable project of 2018, however, is an all-encompassing 300-square-foot addition at a four-season cottage near Grand Beach. And despite the long list of tasks achieved, it’s the company and camaraderie I relish most.

This nearly four-month renovation was initially orchestrated by longtime friend Keith Yallits and his better half, Sheri Tharnovitch. After meeting with the couple over supper with my lovely Carole, and once the architectural drawings were generated and finalized this past spring, we finally broke ground at the beginning of August. This major undertaking includes a brand new kitchen with all the amenities, new three-piece bathroom with heated floor, tuck-away laundry room and master bathroom expansion.

I asked Yallits what propelled a decision to undertake such an adventure. He replied, "We wanted to live at the lake for years, but family obligations made it seem like a far-off dream — we love our one-acre lot, filled with nature. The birds and squirrels, deer and bear keep us entertained all year round and bring us a sense of peace and tranquility. As soon as it was financially feasible, we began our addition journey — a new kitchen, bigger bathroom and adding to our master bedroom were at the top of our list."

The addition to the cottage was framed and closed in within four or five weeks. It was then that the merging of new and old began, with demolition of the existing exterior wall, which opened up the cottage into the new space — no doubt the "aha" moment of the build. The split roof line of the addition features a 15-foot-high loft ceiling at its peak, where three feature windows (added to the plan after the fact) allow the morning light to shine in brightly. The newly drywalled ceiling contains eight slim LED pot lights and two danglers above the kitchen island, adjacent to the existing pine ceiling that continues into the living room.

The kitchen boasts new cupboards supplied by Richard Rochon at Cabinet Corner on Des Meurons, quartz countertops from Renaissance Granite Ltd., and a mosaic stone backsplash that nicely ties in the colours of the cupboards and countertops. The 200-ampelectrical panel upgrade is hidden behind the inset cupboard on the stove wall, and the large easy-access pantry is adjacent to the fridge. The backsplash design emphasizes the range hood, and the cupboard under-lighting showcases the mosaic stone’s profile.

The earth-tone flooring is a vinyl laminate, which was laid throughout the open space of the main floor. All plumbing was relocated along the exterior side of the addition, where the water pump and hot water tank were repositioned within an insulated utility room that was introduced below. Most of the electrical was rerun to accommodate the addition and the 200-amp panel upgrade. And although the new stainless-steel kitchen appliances had yet to arrive, it’s easy to envision how fantastic the new kitchen will appear once everything is in place.

The bathroom features a one-piece shower/tub unit with adjacent storage cabinet, new vanity/sink and toilet, as well as tiled, heated flooring that extends into the hallway and tuck-away laundry area. With so many interior tasks to complete, the exterior siding, soffits, fascia and roofing tasks were subbed out to a local crew, headed by Keith Simpson. On my final day, these tasks were also very near completion.

Yallits recounts, "Even though we had a few issues with the building plans, the deliveries of the various materials, as well as many other obstacles too numerous to mention, the one thing we did right was hiring a contractor who was the perfect fit for us. With that in place (plus the help from a few close friends along the way), our dream is now a reality."

Yallits was extremely hands-on from the onset. Framing, sheeting, windows — his second set of hands during the more laborious tasks was invaluable. I could not have done it without him, and certainly not within the expected completion date. And moreover, both Yallits and Tharnovitch elected to take on all the required painting nearing the close of the adventure, which also kept things on or ahead of schedule. It was all very symbiotic. The experience has provided me with memories of great joy — helping a friend fulfill a lifelong dream, while sharing more than a few laughs along the way.

I’ve known Keith and his family for nearly 30 years, but hadn’t seen him for a while. When he first approached me regarding the impending addition project, I truly had no idea how much enjoyment was lying in wait. ‘Tis true, it was predominantly business as usual — all the tasks did eventually get accomplished. It’s the rekindled friendship that occurred in the process, however, that I now hold dear.

On my last day, Yallits and I toasted to a job well done, conflicted with feelings of happiness because the addition had come to fruition, and a sense of sadness because our rituals of morning coffee, reminiscing over lunch, daily banter and jocularity had also ended, along with the building process.

One morning after that final day, I mistakenly started making my way down Highway 59 North to the Yallits job site, with my subconscious leading me down my previous work route on auto-pilot. Once I realized my error, I chuckled under my breath and quickly made a U-turn back into the city and headed to my new job site.

For projects drawn out over a long while, it is often inevitable friendships emerge. On this occasion, a long-lasting friendship rendered somewhat dormant was reawakened, and in the process a lifelong dream was realized.

I missed you, Keith — this was a ton of fun. Thanks again for asking me to be involved, and I look forward to seeing you and Sheri again soon in your newly renovated abode.


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