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Before and AfterRenovating my House

My Design Studio French Door Fiasco

By 07/28/2012July 14th, 201919 Comments

Renovation Update #28 

We had just bought this house and I was discussing my plans with my kitchen designer friend Jan Romanuk. She said:

‘I’m doing this big renovation in West Vancouver and we are taking out a set of $4000 sliding glass doors because they are the wrong colour. And they’re only a year old, why don’t you use them for your studio?’.

I thought, ‘Well, they are not the double french doors I had envisioned, but the’re free and we’d be recycling them instead of just being taken to the dump, okay thanks!’.

You know how renovations always have stuff that goes sideways? Well, whoever pulled them out, treated the windows like they were going to the dump and damaged the two in the middle beyond repair.

And I didn’t know that until I spent $300 to ship them all the way to my house!

So then someone said, ‘Maria, keep the sidelights and just order french doors to replace the damaged ones.’.

However, the opening for the doors was already framed in, so instead of a minimum of 30″ french doors, we had to order them at 28″. When they arrived, I hated them instantly. See how much skinnier the frame is on the outside? So bad.

And then I started picturing how they would all look together, two sidelights with basically no frame and then the framed french doors? Two sets of windows that it no way relate to each other? Yuk. I thought, not to mention “OMG I will have 170,000 people saying ‘Why did she do that?’.”

So back they went and I scrapped the sidelights.

Now because the opening was already framed in at 118 1/2″ I could no longer do regular french doors with sidelights so it was Tyee Windows in Abbotsford to the rescue.


The owner, Bryan Kornelius, happened to be in the office when I arrived and he came up with the solution of one door with two sidelights.

I also eliminated the window style (in the second photo). They arrive with those little plastic caps you have to nail into the window frame to cover the screws. Then, eventually the white frame turns a putrid yellow in the sun. Very annoying.


So here it is when we first took possession. Storage sheds were built all around it!

Here it is with the additional sheds removed and the demolition complete.


Here you can see the totally overgrown hedges behind it. We just had them trimmed a couple weeks ago.

Here it is with my new windows! My contractor built a temporary step and the vinyl siding is not finished at the bottom because all this concrete is coming out this fall. I have to look at our ugly back and front yard for a couple months longer. It’s hard to plant grass in the middle of summer!

So that’s the update on my design studio! I am still working on decorating it inside so I can show it to you!

The winner of my 50 Must-Have Colour Boards is Carol Sander from Boston! She was the 23rd person to buy my book yesterday. Congratulations Carol!

Day 2 of my 37 Days of Learning Undertones series is posted on my Facebook Fan page right now.   Click like to follow along on your feed, but if you are not on Facebook you can still check out my photo-of-the-day every day.

Have a happy weekend my lovelies! xo Maria

Related posts:

My Design Studio Behind the House

Does Your Colour Consultant Understand Beige?

Six Ways to Choose the Perfect Neutral Paint Colour

Download my eBook, to learn what you didn’t get in Colour Theory – How to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones. Now available in Apple version for iPad.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.



  • Jen says:

    But in the end it looks like you planned it this way all along… Looks great!

  • Jude Hannah says:

    What happened to the old doors? I might have a use for them if available ( Lower Mainland)

    • Maria Killam says:

      One of my contractors took them to see if he could repair them for himself. We have the two small windows still though! Maria

  • Gina Kemp says:

    I heard a great quote once from a home builder I was working with. “I wish I had spent the money I thought I was saving.”

  • Mary says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I tried to save money by doing something myself. It would turn out awful & I would throw it out & try again. All to save some money. If I had it done professionally in the first place I wouldn’t have spent so much.
    I have yet to learn my limitations. But at least I’m not afraid to try.
    I’m sorry you had to go through all this. It’s done now & looks great.

  • Carol says:

    I have been following your ‘new home’ adventures and am stunned at what you have done inside. I’m the person who was curious about that incredible console that held a place of prominance behind your sofa in your last home. My favorite piece.
    NOW I have the pleasure of being the winner of your generous bonus of the Colour Boards. I’ve been sitting in my living room (painted only two years ago) thinking, “this is just not right”. So now, with your ‘How to Choose Paint Colors’ ebook and the colour boards……no excuse not to find the perfect Benjamin Moore color! Thank you, Maria, for your unique insight and the willingness to share what you see. Thank you again.

  • Donna Frasca says:

    Looks nice and the coach lights are cute!

  • Louise says:

    I have GOT to make this comment about expensive one-year old windows being taken out because ‘they were the wrong colour’ (how this can be is beyond me though, I must admit). Anyway, my comment is: some people very obviously have more money than they deserve! Sorry, the windows didn’t work out for you Maria but just couldn’t let this go without saying something.

  • Lesli says:

    Oh boy…this story brings up so many memories of good intentions…gone bad….but the good news is…gone good again! Your doors look great and I am loving watching your house come together. all the best.

  • Tricia says:

    I am a frugal remodeler myself and often incorporate things I get for free or at a reasonable cost. However, I have been talked out of using some things when my contractor explains what it would take to make it happen. (labor plus extra supplies) But I haven’t given up because sometimes it works beautifully and looks better than anything new I could find on the market. I have found that my vision often translates into bigger bucks than I have so there is always a certain amount of compromise.

  • Ann says:

    Im in the final stage of building a log cabin from Los and stone on my place. The cabin is 1750 square feet and has cost $455,000. One of my money saving devices was a pair of 36 inch doors from Habitat. They were exactly what I wanted. The prone a Lowes was $2656 per door. At Habitat they were $55. My contractor screamed that they wouldn’t work, that his labor to cut jambs and frame them in would eat up the savings. I asked him to do it anyway. The reason contractors are hammering my nails is because they have limited mentality for innovation. I did not throw money at an architect eIther. Architects want THEIR own stamp on a building and will argue and badger a client into that. My habitat doors are installed at a reasonable price and I fired the contractor for

    My years of doing some major remodeling ( one of the houses ended up on the front page of the Washington post ) have taught me to listen to myself.

    Good luck.


    • Paula Van Hoogen says:

      Ann, I like your comment about trusting your instincts,etc. I wish I’d fought with our contractor over putting some sky- lites into my 12’porch ceiling. My living room wouldn’t be so dang dark now if I’d have stood my ground!

  • Ilona says:

    We’re redoing our 14-year-old daughter’s bedroom in a cottage style and would like to paint the entire room white (we’ll be laying IKEA’s “Tundra” laminate flooring as well). Could someone recommend a white which has just the tiniest hint (I mean really tiny) of pink so it won’t appear cold and sterile. We don’t want a white with any yellow undertones. Thanks!

  • Kathi says:

    Renovations are not for the faint hearted, the doors turned out great in spite of all of the challenges, hey Maria, everyday I look at your blog waiting for the great countertop reveal, your cabinets were installed June 16-whats happening on that end?

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Maria, Did you ever recover the $300. cost to ship those broken doors?? I think it’s good they didn’t work out—french doors are ever so much better…also no stinkin’ tracks to keep clean—YAY!

  • Three looks better than four in the end! Glad you found a fix even though it was a real headache!

  • Kelly R. says:

    Oy! This reminds me of the time my husband, without consulting me, said sure, mom, we need a sofa so we’ll take the one you’re getting rid of. We lived in MA and she lived in FL. The sofa was a tired old plaid La-Z-Boy with recliners on either side. We paid $800 to ship it. $800 for a “free” sofa I didn’t even want. I could have bought a brand new one for less (even on our newlywed budget). I will forever be skeptical of anything long-distance shipped – I’m guessing you might be too! Glad everything worked out with the doors!

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