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Jill's House

Renovation Series: Francesca’s Childhood Home!

As part of our Renovation Series on the blog, we are following along with Francesca’s renovation of the house she grew up in. If you don’t know who Francesca is … she is not only the head designer of Love it or List it Vancouver, but she is also my GO TO gal for MY renovation (and many of my renovation projects)!!! She is very well versed in renovations … but nothing THIS BIG!!! She replaced the house roof with help from roofing company family owned business. She’s taking the house she has lived in for over 30 years and, with a little help from her friends … is turning it into a dream home for the family!! I am SO SO SOOOOO excited for Francesca, Sandy, and Rita and cannot wait to see the progress as well as the finished product (almost as much as they are)!! …


Hi everyone! Francesca here! I remember exactly where we were – Sandy and I – when we had the idea to renovate the house I grew up in: we were walking along a stone path in the back streets of Puerto Vallarta – over 3 years ago – and it dawned on us that the perfect place to live is one we already had! My mother was living alone in the house, and we wanted to move out of our apartment (well… I wanted to move out – I don’t like being up off the ground, I need a garden to come home to!), and Sandy said “why not fix up your childhood home and have all 3 of us live together?” We surprised my mother with the idea on Christmas day of 2014 and have been working on it ever since.

I naively thought that we would be with permit in one hand and sledgehammer in the other a few short months later but it took a year of planning (3 design brains hashing out layouts!) and almost a year to get the permit (the city really makes you want it…!) and we finally started late this past summer with asbestos remediation – so important to do and worth every penny spent to have that peace of mind of a safe work environment and home – and excavation (yay – no oil tank!) and now we are in midst of framing.


My parents bought the house in the 70’s when they moved to Vancouver – they removed the shag carpeting right away but the 850sf living space and unfinished basement stayed the same for my whole life (which was just fine!).

This is what it looked like when they bought it – for just over $50,000!!!


And this is what the front looked like before the renovation – such a sweet little house!


This renovation is adding a top floor to the house for Sandy and I, underpinning the foundations to give it the proper height for a finished basement and garage and the main living space will be complete with eat-in kitchen, living and studio/bedroom/bathroom for my mother – and of course, a new deck and garden!

This is what the house looked like after asbestos remediation – a gorgeous shell! An ensuite with an unbeatable view (though a little lacking in privacy…) !!



We are working with Kenny Gemmill to help guide us along the path of renovating at this large a scale – a trusted friend and colleague, his experience and realism is invaluable. Novamax Contracting Ltd. and Steadfast Contracting have taken on the dirty work: underpinning, framing and coordinating all the excavation of soil (there’s no back lane to the house which makes the process of renovating oh so much more challenging!). And Jillian and I are bouncing ideas off each other as I’m helping her out on her own renovation in Kelowna and she’s helping me out on mine – in short: a great team!

The house was built in 1909 – or so we think – and one of its best features is that it sits high up on the property. Much of my childhood was spent on the stoop of the stairs, mom and dad and I looking down at the sidewalk with our dogs sitting on the steps on a summer’s evening. And the garden – we’ve loved that garden for over 30 years!


There’s an apple tree that produces unknown deliciously crisp apples – my father, then I, and now Sandy are in charge of its pruning. A well tended little vegetable patch is in the back for garlic, tomatoes, beans etc. and the rest is – well, was and will be again – an English style garden of perennials (peppered in with an extra tomato plant here and there) tended lovingly by my mother. We’ve spent summers enjoying the garden from the back deck, having lunches and dinners al fresco and, in short: we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else so we are putting all our eggs into this basket and hoping they all hatch! This has been our dream house for the last 30+years and it’s going to be our dream house for the next 30+ years – let’s just hope we can get it done in a timely fashion so we can start enjoying the fruits of our labours!


We have partnered up with some great suppliers so far, including EMCO for all plumbing fixtures, Merit Kitchens  for ALL things kitchen, Wholesale Blind Factory for window treatments, Valor Fireplaces, Cosentino for Silestone Countertop product and Valley Countertops for installation and Vinyltek Windows and Doors – thanks to these and other suppliers we will be able to make this dream a realization and hopefully move into our new/old house in early June!

Next up: design – my department – and oh my goodness it’s been tough to make final decisions! What I’ve learned so far is to stick to your guns and don’t get too swayed by all the influences around you and the speed with which the decisions need to be made. Better to take an extra day and make the right call than regret the 10 second choice for the next decade!

Thank you for following along!!






We are so excited to work with all of the above-mentioned companies throughout our renovation and we’re so grateful for partnering with some of them on this huge project of ours!!! Stay tuned for more updates!!

Leave a Reply

  1. I too have recently renovated my family home . It is wonderful living here with my own family just wish my parents could have still been here to see it all finished.

    1. Awwww I LOVE that you renovated your family home as well @disqus_jPrHn16b8d:disqus!!! I’m sure it’s stunning!! XOXO

  2. Yay Francesca!! We’re so excited for you and Sandy and your Mom. With your talent, skill and vision it’s going to be an amazing home for you all. FYI I’m available if you need me to hop over to Italy to help you pick up any last minute furnishings:)

  3. Love this renovation series! My husband & I recently bought our first house in East Van and plan on doing a major reno and second storey addition. Can’t wait to see more updates and inspiration from this project!!

    1. That’s soooo amazing @disqus_yCGerOoRN0:disqus … CONGRATS on your first house, that’s so exciting!!!! XOXO

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