The Garden Suite Reveal


After four and a half years and several hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, we’re approaching the completion of our substantial top to bottom renovation of our vintage shingle house in Charlottetown, PEI. After tackling the third floor ‘Attic Atelier‘, and the second floor ‘Captain’s Quarters’, our main level ‘Garden Suite’ is almost done. Above is a photo of the side elevation of the house taken over one hundred years ago, which James found in the Charlottetown archives.

Like all renovations, we’re around five months behind with all sorts of little loose ends to be completed. The stone pieces still need to be installed around our interior Greek Revival Porch that serves as the transition point between the original house and the new additions. The exterior work still needs tweaking but it’s delayed now that we’re in the thick of winter, and the lower level laundry room is getting its tile laid after our miscalculation on materials. We’re still also getting the final pieces of furniture finished, including the custom desk top for the home office (that can be easily lifted to set up the bed) and a caesarstone top for our stylish dining table bases. The caesarstone we choose is a new offering that won’t be arriving until spring. Boo!

Still, it’s ready for the most part. Want to see what this looked like before? Here are some pics

Here’s a peek at the Side and Centre Halls of our main floor Garden Suite in The Black House. The Side Hall foyer has vintage-style marble ribbon tile floors framed like a ‘carpet’, white beadboard surround and a milk bottle chandelier. They’re contrasted by the two stainless steel and single light cubes that we shipped in from Toronto’s Stylegarage (they have a Vancouver location too!) and the nautical sailing cleats we installed for coat hooks, which we sourced from Cottage Industry in Charlottetown. The Centre Hall has oak parquetry floors with walnut inlay, and a custom built-in closet wrapped in crown molding which we designed to cleverly conceal the underside of the staircase to the second floor suite.


This gutted to the studs suite has two cozy bedrooms, with a home office / optional third bedroom to accommodate up to 6 guests (the beds, towels, and household appliances are predominantly brand names from Sears). Our amazing contractor Paul Coles made the substantial headboards from trim and door panels to emphasize the high ceilings. A wood wardrobe serves as storage in one (you can see it reflected in the mirror in the photo below), and a narrow custom closet made out of door panels with glass knobs provides storage for the other. The bottom photo in this series shows the office awaiting the desk top. We’re designing it out of a hollow core door with hooks on its underside. When this room gets converted into an additional bedroom, we’ll lean the light-weight desk top with hooks against the wall to hold towels and beach wear, and move the two desk pedestals (from Wicker Emporium) to either side of the double bed (which is stored in the basement) to serve as bed side tables. Easy-peasey!



The full white bath is fitted with hexagonal white marble floors and is wrapped in subway tile except for the wall with the vanity which has floor to ceiling mirror. We installed a glass transom between the washroom and the Side Entry Hall to let in the natural light from the south exposure (you can see a glimpse of it just prior to the glass installation in the photo below in the top right). We found the extremely affordable washroom vanities ($379 and $119 for each) at Wicker Emporium (Charlottetown has a limited supply of home furnishing retailers but if you’re inventive and you can sleuth well you’ll find some great bargains) and reconfigured them to accommodate our sinks. In the deep blue-grey jack and jill powder room fitted with marble floors and black fittings, we placed floor to ceiling mirrors on the opposite walls behind the toilet and the sink to create an unexpected ‘fun house’ vibe that both surprises and expands this diminutive space.



We reconfigured the space plan so the sleeping quarters and new baths are located in what were once the kitchen, living and dining rooms of the original house, and then expanded the ugly rear 1980s bedroom into an open plan Entertainment Space. This entailed adding a 10×13 foot extension to the 1980s 10×13 foot bedroom addition, demolishing the dilapidated bathroom shed addition off the kitchen and constructing a second 8×10 foot addition in its place, and linking them all into an open L-shaped Entertainment Space. Our objective was to create two distinct separate zones – one a quiet private zone for rest and solitude – and the second a convivial social zone of indoor outdoor living. Here’s the floor plan.

Wanting to respect the original scale, proportion and formality of our Centre Hall shingle manse, we re-introduced high baseboards, substantial moldings, vintage hardware (thank you Restoration Hardware!) and classic tiles (from Pollocks on Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto) to convey the elegance of yesteryear throughout the sleeping quarters and entry halls. But in the new additions, now configured into one open plan, we chose to contrast the formality of the original house with the casual atmosphere that comes with 100 hundred year old barn beam ceilings and old thick plank floors. Not only do the barn beams keep the space relaxed, but the largest one was cut into a U-channel to wrap around and hide the massive steel I-beam which supports the upper levels. You can see the dining area has a banquette in front of the windows. We’re having an oval table made for this location so that guests can scootch in and out while dining or playing board games. This room is bathed in morning light, though the one hundred year old white ash tree does provide some shade. At night it has spot lights in it to create a magical focal point for the stacking outdoor terraces of each suite.

The kitchen has white lacquer cabinets with push latches, wrapped in butcher block for functionality while keeping the lines clean. The island has open shelving on the cooking side with a microwave tucked underneath. We have two white open shelving cubes to come from Prestige Kitchens (who also did our Attic Atelier kitchen – Love!), which they’ll mount on the beadboard wall to hold the dishes and glasses. We were hoping to keep the kitchen wall unadorned but even we, as minimalistic cooks, needed more storage.



The sitting area is tucked under a modest 8×10 foot open shed addition with vaulted ceiling that has an electronically operated skylight. We went to Cottage Industry located at 79 Grafton Street in the heart of downtown Charlottetown to source the furnishings for this room. The elegant well-proportioned settee and wingback chair are from Lee Industries, the gorgeous white hanging pendant is by Robert Abbey, and the bright graphic pillows are by Thomas Paul. If you’re local, definitely make Cottage Industry a destination as they have all sorts of charming pieces. The sailing cleats in our front hall were only $12 each but they add that pop of colour and nautical vibe appropriate to island life.

You’ll see we left the once exterior rear wall of the original house covered in black shingles to bridge the old and new, yet added the historically accurate thick Greek Revival moldings around the new frosted Pella double-hung windows to blur the lines between yesteryear and now. The glass door with transom window walks out to the cedar deck which will soon have a massive dining table and barbecue for summer fetes. The square coffee table is from Stylegarage, the circular metal table was a Winners find, and the carpet was picked up at Wicker Emporium. Did I mention James and I furnished and styled the place in just 72 hours?



There’s still some final touch-ups but here’s a couple of photos of the rear and shed addition which contain the main level Entertainment Space, with the terraces stacked on top for the upper suites.



We’re absolutely thrilled to be offering this property for Summer Rentals. Here’s our New website for The Black House, and here’s a posting on Airbnb if you’re curious to learn more. Click HERE for the link.

And here’s some ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pics of our Attic Atelier too, if you’d like to see our other renovation in this charming manse! Or you can read the whole journey here by clicking The Tales Of Upper Hillsborough.

Do you have questions about renovating your personal residence or income property? At we welcome offering you our point of view, all without pressure or hassle.

~ Steven and the urbaneer team

Tales Of Upper Hillsborough

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