Guest Post: A Major Renovation at “The Flophouse”

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McLean House – collage 1

I’ve lived through a renovation or two before. The house my parents bought when I was a kid was filthy, reeked of cat pee, had a horribly overgrown yard, and was generally decrepit. They’ve been slowly renovating it for 16 years. My dad bought an abandoned karaoke bar on East Hastings Street and converted into an office for his architecture firm. He’s been slowly renovating that space for 4 years. And now we’ve bought a rundown house at the corner of McLean and Kitchener, across the street from Flüff, with two apartments. Since taking possession in June, renovations have gone full speed ahead. Here’s a rundown our progress so far.

McLean House – collage 2

During the purchase process, my sister and I dubbed the home “The Flophouse”. It wasn’t really a flophouse per se, but it was treated that way. Separated into three apartments, each had a tenant with separate issues but a shared disregard for upkeep. Suffice to say, the house and yard was, filthy, filled with stuff, and in disrepair, including a large hole in the roof, water damage, and a damaged electrical connection. But the 103-year-old Victorian has good bones and we pressed on with the sale.

Immediately after completing the sale and taking possession (and finally kicking out the last tenant) we started to clean. It may seem odd to clean before making a big renovation mess, but years of grime and cigarette smoking inside the house made it necessary. Cleaning water from the walls and windows came away yellow with nicotine and the smell was oppressive, but it seems to be under control now.

McLean House – collage 3

Here are the top 3 things we will  be updating:

  1.  Each apartment is starting fresh with brand new kitchens and bathrooms, so the existing furniture and fixtures were ripped out
  2. The main floor apartment, originally the parlour, and kitchen for the house, will be a one-bedroom apartment.
  3. Layers and layers of plywood, cardboard, and lineoleum were peeled off the floor to reveal, generally, the original fir flooring that will be refinished shortly

McLean House – collage 4

Work is earnestly progressing towards getting things ready for move in. The roof has been repaired, the rats are being taken care of, and soon we will have a furnace, hot water heater, and electricity. Kitchen cabinets and appliances have been ordered from Ikea, and the floors will be refinished. I am busy on Pinterest, looking at photographs of other people’s kitchens.

I’m always amazed by how much effort goes into turning an old house into something beautiful again. Using a barebones crew of the family and friends, most progress is being made on the weekends. So much has been done, and there is so much yet left to do, and with a move-in date of September 1st, not all of it will get done this summer. I’ll be back with updates, particularly as the fun of furnishing and decorating begins! 

By: Emma Carscadden

emma headshot copyEmma Carscadden is the Marketing and Promotions Cooridinator at Bruce Carscadden Architect and a director at the Strathcona Business Improvement Association. She is about to share this ridiculous house with her sister and intends to paint the bathroom pink.

Have your say


  1. Jennie says:

    WOW, what a big job; I wouldn’t know where to start! I’m sure it will look amazing in the end, and I look forward to seeing more progress pictures…

  2. belboschi says:

    It is so cool to see a guest post on your blog! I hope we get to see the transformation in progress too!

  3. Niaomi says:

    I’m so excited you’re moving back in to the neighbourhood Emma, it looks like a soon to be wonderful home!

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