The Patocka Residence Make-Over

Eight years ago, Rachel Patocka and her husband, Tom, bought their family home from his parents. The ranch-style bungalow sits on a City acreage in a beautiful stretch of ravine wilderness. It was built in 1976, and though Rachel’s in-laws had made some changes to the home, the family decided it was time to update it and make spaces more functional for their family of four.

 The first things on the chopping block were an obtrusive beam that was cramping everyone’s style, a relic of an accordion closet door, and wood ceiling panels, Dukes of Hazard style!



January 2015


DC/RR: Why was it a good time to renovate?


RP: I’m an army brat, we moved every three years when I was growing up.  We wanted somewhere stable to call ours, to call home. We went to look at different places in our area, but only found more houses that needed updating and with no yard, so we decided to stay put.


We knew what we wanted and actually had begun consultation with a different contractor the year before. However, the timing was bad and we felt rushed, we decided to delay and revisit in a year. When we met with Kendall and Sheldon, we just had a good feeling from the beginning.


PHOTO: Front entrance



DC/RR: Did you have a vision in mind of what you wanted?


RP: We wanted to tie the rooms together; they were opposing forces. I couldn’t wait to get rid of the brown wooden slats on the ceiling—it was like the Dukes of Hazard playhouse in here!


The kitchen used to be a one-person workspace and I wanted more room to work. I come from a large family and when we all get together for the holidays, it has to be buffet style. I needed a big workspace and somewhere we can lay out dinner and move around with ease.


I also really wanted a mudroom where we could store the kids’ winter clothes and sports equipment.


PHOTO: Laundry closet

PHOTO: Kitchen



PHOTO: Living/TV room





April 2015


DC/RR: Did you run into any surprises during the renovation?


RP: The basement and living room was always leaking because of the angle of the roof and vaulted ceiling above the dining area. That had to be fixed before they could continue with the renovation. I was worried it was going to put us really behind, but Sheldon and his team had the new roofline fixed and framed in 10 days and we were able to move on with the rest of the project.


The first question Tom calls with when he is working out of town and there has been a heavy rain storm (and there were many this past summer!) is “Is the basement dry?”


It has been bone dry all year!



PHOTO: Living/TV room (construction)



DC/RR: What were some of the most challenging decisions you had to make?


RP: Countertops. It’s hard to know what it will look like when it is all laid out. Especially when the samples are small 5x5 square and the end result will be a 9’ island and counters. Some marbling and flecks were nice but what would it look like with a whole slab?


I also wanted frosted glass in the kitchen. There was a lot to choose from, but Kendall and I were able to whittle down the choices together.


PHOTO: kitchen (construction)


DC/RR: What were some of the best decisions you made?


RP: Increasing R-value with spray-foam. It was money well-spent—it’s cool in our house in the summer and warm in the winter. Also, the reclaimed wood features tie the rooms together. And, of course, the kitchen is the best part! Everything has a home in this kitchen. My daughter also loves baking muffins and cakes, so now there is enough room for us to do that together.  



DC/RR: How long did the renovation take?


RP: We began the renovation on April 7th, 2015, and they handed over the keys on July 28th. They were finished ahead of schedule. We were settled into the house in time for the kids to get into routine for a new school year. It was wonderful!




July 2015


PHOTO: kitchen (new)


DC/RR: Do you feel like you live differently in your home after the renovation?  


RP: I love to read. I now have a quiet corner where I can sit and read by myself or with the kids and have lots of light. The library now fits a comfy couch instead of two stiff chairs. Also, having room for a desk means I have somewhere to work and can keep the kids in my sights when they are doing their homework.


We were also able to keep the things that I always loved about the home, such as the exposed brick and the wood-burning fireplace. Every Christmas, the family goes tobogganing and comes back here for a big roaring fire. That was one thing I didn’t want to give up.


PHOTO: Living room (new)


DC/RR: Any learnings along the way you want to share?


RP: Take everything in stride. I understand better the time frame for things, now, and that the work will get done.


Also, working with a contractor who will do the planning and work up front is key to being done on time. We had all the tile and floor and materials lined up for an April start date. That took the pressure off the timeline. The renovation was finished early. And that never happens!


I found having a designer on board during renovation immensely useful with it being our first one. Kendall’s keen eye, construction knowledge, and organization helped keep me sane. It also helped that she seemed to be able to visualize what I would like for our home. Kendall was a great liaison to have, and also extremely helpful with keeping us within our budget but still including things that we may not have thought of. She also ensured that communication was streamlined so that everyone was on the same page. 


I feel like Diamond and Revolving Rooms has a vision for the rest of the home when we renovate it. It’s great to know we will be in good hands when the time comes.


PHOTO: Front entrance (new)


First meeting: October 2014
Pre-planning began: January 2015
Renovation start: April 7, 2015
Renovation completion: July 28, 2015

Questions to ponder (and answer) when hiring an Interior Designer


Starting a renovation without an adequate interior design blueprint is like starting a business without a marketing plan; both can yield wasted efforts and expense.


But the truth is, when you Google “best interior design” you get one hundred ways to update your home with trendy décor or do creative flower arrangements, and a bunch of photos of homes that are cool, but not realistic for your city or lifestyle.


In the world of DESIGN, the spectrum of what interior design professionals can do is wide and can be confusing. There are many branches of interior design, and niches to appreciate, including home staging, choosing furniture and new colour schemes; however, it’s a common occurrence for home owners to find themselves in a renovation or new build situation with an interior designer who is in over their head.


To find the right interior design professional,

ask yourself the following:


1. What is the scope of my work? Am I redesigning an ensuite bathroom or kitchen, or looking to turn my living room into a library?


2. Do I require someone to help me with an updated paint colour? For example, if I change the colour in the kitchen, do I have to change the colour in the adjacent living room?


3. Do I need structural work done? For example, do I want to relocate a wall?


4. Do I need help space planning furniture? Do I want to transform my dining room into a more functional entertaining space for guests and family.


5. Am I building an entirely new home? Self explanatory.


Professionals who help their clients change the paint colour/colour scheme, buy furniture, stage their home have different skills than an interior designer who is coordinating a construction site. If you are building a new home/infill, renovating your existing home, remodeling your existing home, consider the following definition of interior design.


At Revolving Rooms, we define Interior Design as:


The marrying of construction elements and interior functionality.


Interior Design is not only about the materials and textures that are “visual” in a space, but it is the foundation and “guts” of what it took to get those textures/features to look amazing. We get it, not everyone has an appreciation for lumber and electrical and all the unseen elements of what make a new build or renovation great, but it’s easy to forget just how important they are to the final outcome.



There are all different types of certification for interior designers, and many different niches that are born of the same education. Some of the interior design professionals you run into will have Interior Design Technology (IDT) training where they have learned how technical (fitting the measurements of the dream shower into the renovated ensuite), functional (making sure the dream shower fits the purpose, and that the client doesn’t have to turn sideways to exit), and aesthetic aspects (tile texture, colour scheme, and plumbing fittings) come together in a home or commercial environment.


That IDT training gives interior designers a better understanding of the construction environment and the “guts” of a project. Aside from education and certification, years of experience and project portfolios are other ways to distinguish one interior designer from another.


An interior designer needs to know how the space will function to ensure the materials used in the construction process are adequate.


Interior selections are selected with certain function and end-user in mind. For example, the subfloor in a bathroom will dictate what kind of tile can be used; the placement of pot lights in the kitchen will determine how a space is lit and whether the desired ambiance is created.


Interior designers, like us, who work alongside a construction/general contractor team are lucky enough to have all trades at our fingertips. When we present a plan to our clients, for example, for the installation of that dream shower, we draft a floor plan, then run upstairs to consult with our amazing plumber, Wayne, who will talk it out and make us look brilliant when we present a solid plan to the client that has taken all aspects of interior design and construction into consideration.


Interior Design aspects and Construction requirements MUST communicate at all times throughout the renovation process.



Ever been inside a home where the layout didn’t flow or make sense? Likely, the designer behind the renovation or remodel wasn’t thinking about moving in. At Revolving Rooms we think about moving in, ALWAYS.


That’s how we guarantee you will want to when we hand over the keys!


If you have any questions about how to hire the right interior designer for your home renovation or infill, please contact us!


How to give your floor the lifespan it deserves

A flooring installer’s trade is intricate as needlepoint, and physical as erecting drywall. (And kind of loud, with that nail gun!) The hardwood nailing, tile setting, and carpet laying work of a renovation often yields the head-spinning smell of glue and ear-piercing sounds of a race track, but behind the floor installation process, there is strategy and planning.


Danen Daniel, our flooring specialist and installer from Edge2Edge, says one of the most important steps in floor installation is making sure the job-site conditions are just right.


“Moisture in the air, the wood, and the underlay, and the state of the sub-floor all affect the lifespan and longevity of your floor. All types of floors, from hardwood to vinyl can buckle, mould, cup (rise at the edges) or dish (lower at the edges and higher in the centre), have excessive gapping or wood splitting if moisture is not considered and subfloor is not adequately prepared.”

Test your hardwood knowledge with this quiz!

1. Which of these hardwoods are hardest?

American cherry
Beech, red oak

2. Which one is softest?

American Cherry
Red oak


3. Which one of these woods is considered exotic, or not native to Canada?

American cherry

*Answers are at the bottom of the page

Floor installation begins with these job-site prep steps.


1. Subfloor preparation. Excessive gapping and splitting wood occurs if a subfloor is not leveled prior to the floor going down. Before installing hardwood, engineered hardwood, laminate and tile, installers drop a laser and string level the floor and build it up where it needs leveling.


2. Humidity check. Humidity in the air varies, depending on time of year and also varies with grade of the home—there is often more moisture below grade (in the basement) than there is on ground level and above. Below grade, a higher level of alkalides in the soil below the home can also deteriorate the floor and leave it moulded if it is not installed with the right adhesives and membranes.


Common misperceptions about floors.


1. Wide plank boards take less time and cost less to install than thin. Wide plank boards actually cost more to install because of the time involved in making sure they stay in place. Prior to nailing or stapling a 7-inch board tongue-in-groove, a thorough installer will add an adhesive to the middle and ends of the boards to give them extra strength—work that is not required with a 3-inch board, hence the extra labour.  


2. Wood can be made harder or more dent resistant with a different finish. One finish may be harder than another, but it does not change the fact that if something is dropped on your maple or oak floor, it will dent, no matter what finish is on it. There is no way to make a hardwood more dent resistant with a finish, unfortunately; however, the emergence of hand-scraped and distressed engineered hardwood floors eliminates the nail-biting stress of keeping hardwood pristine.


3. Hardwood or laminate flooring are superior to carpet when trying to avoid allergens. This widespread belief goes only as deep as the bristles on your broom. It is not uncommon practice to pull out a broom once or twice a day to sweep floors, but to pull out the vacuum that many times just seems tedious and excessive. We tend to clean what we can see, and of course, those crumbs and debris underfoot are much more annoying than plush carpet. If we cleaned our carpets with the same frequency as our floors, they would stay as clean.  


A few tips before you install a new floor.


1. The cost to level a floor can sometimes outweigh what home owners want to spend. Make sure your renovation contractor includes subfloor preparation in your estimate and budget. There is no way for your contractor or salesperson to know what is under your existing floor, and what amount of time will be needed to prepare the job site for laying floor that will last its full lifetime.


2. All your flooring products should spend some time onsite before installation—longer in the rainy season—and your installer should measure the humidity in the wood to make sure it matches the environment and the subfloor they are installing on.


3. On average, only 25% of installers out there are trained and use proper installation practices. Don’t be fooled. Laying floor requires the same workmanship and years of experience as any trade to be good at it. Look for certification and, especially, years of experience. Keep in mind, a great tile setter isn’t necessarily going to be as good at laying hardwood, and vice versa. Ideally, your home renovation crew will include one tradesman/woman who is great at each type of installation.


4. Make sure your installer is using the right products for the right floor. For example, the adhesives for engineered hardwood are different than for regular hardwood, and more expensive in some cases. Also, the glue used at sub terrain levels is different than the main level depending on moisture levels. Make sure they are not cutting corners when it comes to the products that are going to keep your floors looking great.

When floors go down, anticipation rises; a room lights up with a new contrast of colour and a homeowner can finally envision laying on their new carpet reading a story to the kids, or entertaining guests on a beautiful swath of hardwood. It’s best to get off on the right foot when it comes to laying it down. 

Answer #1: Maple, Answer #2: American Cherry, Answer #3: Acacia