Thirfty handy­man saves big bucks

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - FRONT PAGE -

sell­ers such as Ki­jiji and E-bay, sal­vage com­pa­nies, as well as Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Re­Stores at 60 Rue Archibald and at the cor­ner of El­lice Av­enue and Wall Street. Another of Gre­goire’s money-sav­ing ideas was to pur­chase two-inch-byeight-inch lam­i­nated butcher blocks from Home De­pot to make kitchen and is­land coun­ter­tops and back­splashes. “With taxes, I spent about $400 on four red oak blocks,” said Gre­goire. “Gran­ite, quartz or any of the popular stone coun­ter­tops would have cost thou­sands of dol­lars.” To fur­ther save dol­lars, he pur­chased click-to­gether cork tiles on sale at a large floor­ing re­tailer. He said the tiles were easy to lay on the kitchen floor and ad­ja­cent laun­dry room, both of which are high-traf­fic, mois­ture-prone ar­eas where the sealed cork has stood up well. “The tiles only re­quired a six-mil vapour bar­rier un­der­lay and they are very for­giv­ing on the feet, un­like stone tiles,” Gre­goire said, adding the cou­ple’s two dogs have not scratched the cork so far. While ren­o­vat­ing the kitchen, he re­moved some 1950s-style wood cup­boards with slid­ing-glass pan­els and hung them in the laun­dry room above a cab­i­net his wife had pur­chased from a Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Re­Store. He cov­ered the top of the cab­i­net with black gran­ite tile from Rona and trimmed the edges with sal­vaged hard­wood, re­peat­ing the process on an ex­ist­ing cab­i­net on the op­po­site side of the laun­dry room. Much of the trim through­out the house was made by Gre­goire by rip­ping spruce boards to size and paint­ing them to match ex­ist­ing colours, a real loonie saver as mould­ings sold by re­tail­ers are ex­or­bi­tantly priced. The cre­ative use of in­ex­pen­sive iron wa­ter pipe also kept some moolah in Gre­goire’s britches. A towel rack at­tached to the kitchen is­land was made from the pipe, as were two wall mounts that support a wood frame and dry­wall box that hangs over the kitchen is­land. Pieces of pipe, some con­nected by el­bows, were se­cured to walls at ei­ther end of the box us­ing flush-mount hard­ware and screws, then fas­tened to the inside of the box with sim­i­lar con­nec­tors. A space was left so the pipes could be seen where they exit the ends of the box and join the walls. “The rough look of the un­fin­ished iron pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing con­trast to the smooth, fin­ished dry­wall,” said Gre­goire, adding the box con­tains the wiring for two drop lights hang­ing over the is­land, as well as a strip of coloured LED light­ing that shines up­ward onto the ceil­ing, cre­at­ing a sen­sual am­biance when bright lights in the kitchen and open liv­ing room are turned off. Al­ways on the look­out for in­ex­pen­sive ma­te­ri­als to be used in un­con­ven­tional ways, the thrifty handy­man en­closed a door frame that once led from the liv­ing room to a main-floor bath­room with a sheet of translu­cent plas­tic. Be­fore mount­ing the sheet, he built blue LED lights into the sur­round­ing wall cav­ity. “I could have cov­ered the open­ing with dry­wall, but I de­cided the translu­cent ma­te­rial glow­ing blue around the edges would make an in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion piece,” he said. For her part, Her­nan­dez said she makes sug­ges­tions about what would make life eas­ier in the small house built in the mid-1950s. “There was never room for a walk-in closet in the up­stairs master bed­room, so I asked my hus­band if he could ren­o­vate a bed­room in the cel­lar to in­clude a large closet,” she said. Even though the new master bed­room is lo­cated in the base­ment, it’s her favourite part of the ren­o­va­tion as it con­tains her dream closet as well as a full bath­room with a tem­pered glass shower en­clo­sure. “It’s not gloomy be­cause the walls are high and the win­dows are big,” she said. Her rec­om­men­da­tions to save money are to at­tend es­tate and garage sales to find rea­son­ably priced fur­ni­ture, light­ing fix­tures and many other house­hold ac­ces­sories. “It also helps to have a handy­man for a hus­band,” she added.


Front el­e­va­tion of St. James ren­o­va­tion show­ing joined dou­ble-hung win­dows.


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