Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

The teenager's turn

A few years ago, our daughter Caitlin decided that she wanted to move to the bedroom downstairs.

A few years ago, our daughter Caitlin decided that she wanted to move to the bedroom downstairs. Part of the move was selfless: She reasoned that it would be better for the upstairs bedroom to be a guest room, so that when her elderly grandmothers came from out of province for a visit, they wouldn't have to climb up and down the stairs. Part of the decision was self-interest: The "rec" room, where she likes to hang out with friends or just be by herself, was downstairs, just down the hall from the bedroom. She would also have her own bathroom downstairs -- no more nagging from her mom to keep the upstairs bathroom, which is the main bathroom, clean and tidy. She didn't mind that the downstairs bathroom was ugly, with pipes hanging down from the ceiling. At least, it was functional.

At 17, Caitlin is finishing high school and will be heading to Australia to volunteer in 2013, before starting university. So, the renovation takes into account that she'll be living in the space for at least nine months, maybe more, depending on where she goes to university. Here's her take on the process:

Q: What did you think of the process of planning for the renovation?

Caitlin: I thought that the process of planning for the renovations took a lot longer than it should have. I don't understand why you can't just send someone exactly what you want and they do it -- that's that.

It's silly that there has to be meetings constantly to check if you actually wanted what you asked for. Also, I wasn't very involved in the planning stages. I asked for things I wanted (like a separate standup shower in the downstairs bathroom) and didn't get any of them. As my stepfather would say, “My life is an unmitigated hell.” But I did end up getting things I hadn't asked for because I didn't think they were possible, like my fantastic walk in closet!

Basically, it was an extremely long and boring process. Considering my mother did more research on our renovation than NASA does on Mars, it took twice as long as it probably could have.

Q: Do you think you learned anything from the planning and the work on the renovation?

Caitlin: I learned a lot about how much effort it takes to do a renovation. How much time and effort you have to put into the planning to make the renovation perfect, and yet you still have a few hiccups along the way! It's not fair at all!

I've learned that it takes a lot of patience to plan a renovation and that if you're going to plan one, be prepared for it to take over your whole entire life. I don't think I could talk to my mom about anything that DIDN'T have to do with renovations for a good two months. Be prepared for it to cause a lot of stress and tension in your house. It's really not as easy as HGTV makes it look.

Question: What are you looking forward to most about (a) going back into the house and (b) your room?

Caitlin: The thing I'm looking most forward to about going back to the house is the SPACE (compared to the apartment we’re in now) and being able to turn a corner and not see my stepfather walking around in his underwear.

I'm excited to finally be able to blast Shania Twain while in the shower without having to worry about our neighbours below, beside and above us hearing my horrible renditions of the songs. I'm excited to be able to watch TV and not having a volume war with my mother watching TV in the kitchen and my stepfather watching TV in the bedroom and none of us being able to hear our TV over the other. The thing I'm looking forward to most about going back to my room is the walk-in closet, finally more space to hoard all my junk!

I also am really excited for my new big window. I love early morning light to wake me up so I might finally feel like I haven't been shunted to a basement!

Question: You were really keen at first about moving to an apartment downtown during the reno -- do you still think it was a good idea? What do you like most and least about being downtown?

Caitlin: I was really excited about being downtown because I loved the aspect of being a cool hipster and having a gorgeous view. At first, it was so difficult bringing myself to WALK about 15 minutes to get to a bus to get anywhere, since before I would normally drive or go to the bus stop that was just a two-minute walk from the house. But once I got used to the walking, I started to enjoy it. It makes me feel less guilty for not working out because I kind of get exercise. Now, I find it really convenient to be located close to all buses instead of ones that just go to UVic and downtown. From downtown, I'm able to go into Gordon Head and out to Langford without taking two buses. It's convenient and it's going to suck leaving. The people in our building are also really nice people. It's awesome to have neighbours right outside your door when they're nice people.

Question: What do you like most/least about being in a highrise tower?

Caitlin: My favourite thing about being in a highrise has to be the view -- it's awesome waking up to the sun and the sounds of the water and looking out to see the Empress hotel and the planes taking off. My least favourite thing about being in a highrise is the elevator!!! THOSE THINGS ARE SO SLOW, especially if you really have to go to the bathroom -- it feels like it takes 10 minutes just to get to the 10th floor.

Question: What do you like most/least about living in a house?

Caitlin: The best thing about living in a house is having it to yourself!!! There are no people to make noise complaints about you! There are also no elevators ... though sometimes I wish there was when I’m too tired to climb the stairs to the kitchen...haha. The thing I like least about living in a house would have to be the space, there's so much of it! It's a good and bad thing I guess. But it's so difficult when you're watching TV downstairs and want a snack and you have to go ALLLL the way upstairs to get it then go ALLLL the way back downstairs to your television. It's pure torture.

Q: Thinking about the house the way it used to be, what did you like most and what did you like least?

Caitlin: What I liked most about the old house is probably the things that are staying the same. The rec room in the basement that is my "fun room" is one of my favourite things about the house. It's nice to not have the TV in my bedroom so that I actually get sleep. But sometimes on weekends when I want to watch movies till I pass out there's a sofabed there! There's enough space to have a bunch of friends over and not have to squish together awkwardly.

I think what I liked least about the house was the kitchen. It was impossible to fit more than two people in there without running into each other. I'd have to wait for someone to stop using the fridge just to get around it to go downstairs. It'll be nice to be able to be in the kitchen together as a family and not bumping elbows.

Q: What do you think are the smartest changes we're making to other parts of the house?

Caitlin: I think the smartest changes we made to the house are all of the changes. I don't think we would have made a change to the house that wasn't a smart change! That'd be a massive waste of money. The door from the garage to the basement is one of my favourites because we can finally use the garage for more than storage and put the car in there. Also the larger kitchen is good for a family that loves to cook and eat … but mostly eat. We take up a lot of space. I also really like the floor-to-ceiling windows in the family room. I love all the light that it brings into our house.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks