The Captain’s Quarters Renovation Begins At The Black House

Tales Of Upper Hillsborough

Over the past three years we've been sharing our endeavour to purchase, tune-up, renovate, add-on and operate (remotely from Toronto, Ontario) a vintage triplex in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – which we call The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough.



It started serendipitously when, back in 2008, James Ormston and I bought this once-neglected severely-butchered triplex (pictured above), for $153,000, plus around $4000 in closing costs. Click HERE for the story on how it happened.

Since then, we've systematically tackled a top-to-bottom renovation including two additions (one three floors high!), to turn this dilapidated dwelling into 3000 square feet of luxury accommodations both for ourselves and for tenants who will appreciate our commitment to quality.

Here's our Garden Suite and our Attic Atelier now, after a $500,000+ investment, which we offer as weekly and monthly furnished rentals.



Since our purchase back in 2008 our second floor suite has been home to some swell local tenants who have helped us navigate through the trials and tribulations of owning a property from afar. When our last tenant Chad vacated we were crushed, as he was always on the ready to assist. We miss him terribly, but his departure gave us the impetus to tackle renovating the second floor 'Captain's Quarters' to a level of finishes commensurate with the rest of the property. We also decided to turn it into a furnished rental like the other two, to both serve the demand for quality accommodations and provide us additional space when we visit with family and friends. 

Furthermore – and here's a critical real estate lesson – always remember the highest value of any rental property is always its greatest when it's stylistically cohesive with few deficiencies, it showcases a commitment to quality and pride of ownership, and it's generating the most lucrative income stream possible.

The Captain's Quarters – which we affectionately nicknamed to honour its original elegant features like high baseboards, wood floors, old doors and beadboard (how nautical!) – comprises the original four bedrooms of this circa 1880s vintage house. One bedroom was converted into a bathroom back at the turn of the century… presumably when indoor plumbing became part of the modern conveniences of its day, and another became a kitchen, possibly in the 1980s when an extra bedroom was tacked on the rear as part of a large, albeit ugly, three storey addition, creating a two-bedroom suite.

A few years back, we renovated the second floor washroom by adding a stacking washer/dryer, installing a marble inlaid floor, subway tiles and bead board on the walls, and vintage looking fixtures to respect the integrity of the house. Here's one 'Before' pic followed by one in progress showing the floors and installation of the stacked laundry to give you an idea:


This suite originally lacked outdoor space. To reconcile this (we consider outdoor space an integral factor in elevating a rental apartment's appeal), we decided to add a Side Porch (where the Garden Suite and Attic Atelier have their entrances) and a 3-storey Deck Tower on the back of the 1980s rear addition which had small windows, electric baseboards and zero personality. This Tower addition was a massive and costly undertaking, but it provided us the additional square footage we desired to create a 3-bedroom Garden Suite, created a covered Summer Porch with new French doors for this Suite, and a stunning Sky Terrace perched beside the canopy of a 100 year of Ash tree in our romantic third floor 2-bedroom Attic Atelier.

We're excited about seeing the Captain's Quarters being finished and seeing how the outdoor space enhances the Suite. The roof of the Side Porch is becoming a Sundeck accessed from a new French door in the kitchen, which will be perfect for a small propane barbecue and a breakfast table. The covered terrace at the rear overlooking the garden and towering Ash tree will be the perfect respite for evenings. Here's a photo of the Deck Tower – where the centre space in the middle of the deck tower is the new covered porch for this second floor suite:


Below is the original floor plan and the new improved layout showing the added outdoor space:

Despite all of these upgrades and additions, the interior of the second floor suite still required a significant cosmetic tune up. Which brings us to now – our current and final (in theory) project – beyond the smaller outstanding 'to-do' list (like spray-painting the unfinished porition of the basement walls and ceiling white and painting the floor barn red). The renovations we're tackling now include restoring the stair banister – which had been cut out some years earlier -, replacing a section of ugly tile patching on the second level wood-floor landing and removing the drywall nib wall demarcating where a staircase had once gone up to the attic but has since long ago been removed, re-staining all the original maple floors a warm 'walnut', upgrading the track lighting and installing ceiling fans to improve air flow, renovating the entire kitchen with new custom cabinetry, caesarstone counters, subway tile backsplash and restoring the original flooring, plus doing some custom carpentry like headboards for the beds and a built-in dining banquette.

Just your typical – oh my golly this is unraveling – renovation.

Here's a photo of the old banister where you can see it was cut both on the stairwell and the drywall knib wall at the top, followed by 2 photos of the new banister. We've had a lot of people comment on our attention to detail, but we're truly committed restoring what we can, when we can. It makes for a better experience, and creates that feeling of 'Home'. The next time you see our progress, we'll be revealing the risk-taking carpet runners we're having custom cut to fit.


Here are some 2008 photos of the Captain Quarter's bedrooms:



And here are some progress shots showing the refinished floors and the custom headboards in the 2 bedrooms, plus the dining banquette being built by our fab contractor Paul Coles.


Pretty fantastic, eh?

Right now we're in the midst of having the new kitchen installed. Our contractor Paul ripped up several layers of linoleum and sub-floor to find the original floors which have been stained to match. We've also added a swinging French door between the kitchen and the living/dining room, so that the living room (with its sleeper sofa) can be converted into additional guest space, if required. And now we're on to choosing our furnishings to make this another heart-grabbing rental.

Want to see more?

Stay tuned for more Tales of Upper Hillsborough.

~ Steven and the urbaneer team

Tales Of Upper Hillsborough

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