Vacation in Renovation

Revelling in the Good Renovations of Others

Last post, I mentioned that it was our anniversary. To celebrate, The Renovator and I went to a fabulous little Guesthouse (too nice to call a B&B) in Sooke, BC. It’s called Cooper’s Cove – and it was fabulous. Our weekend included breakfast both mornings, a gourmet dinner on the Saturday night and a beautiful private room. Did I mention it was fabulous? We had a great time.

Now that I’m done gushing, let me relate to the blog. Ina and Angelo have owned and operated the guesthouse for 15 years and they understand what guests want and need. The Renovator and I needed quiet solace, good food and nice views and we received all of that in spades. What we hadn’t bargained for was the fact that this guesthouse had undergone major renovations over the past decade and a half and they had been done incredibly well.

I knew that the solace of our visit was slightly invaded when I was told – by The Renovator upon returning to our room, fresh coffee in hand –  that there were photo albums upstairs showing the steps of some of the renovating. My interest was awake before I was, and I found myself caught up in The Renovator’s curiosity. I mean really, who needs solace when there’s renovation stuff to talk about?!?!


Our room – the Wildflower Room – is one of four. All the rooms are at the back of the house, so no road noise – just nice quiet views. Often in B&Bs, the bathroom is cramped, tucked away and ‘fit in’. In our room (as was the case in the other two we snooped in during cleaning between guests) the bathroom was spacious, the bedroom, though not large, was accommodating – allowing for movement and essentials. The decorating had been well done, with warm, inviting colours and custom accessories to complement each room.  It’s not like the Wildflower room was decked out in everything that had ever been adorned with a wildflower! No, it was tasteful, well-placed, imaginative. Simple things, like using the same fabric for the duvet cover as for the outer shower curtain and the custom designed towel rack and toilet paper holders.

These simple things make a room stand out. Choosing well-coordinated items will make the difference between a room that works and a room that doesn’t. The Renovator gets frustrated when I’m looking for the right item, he doesn’t understand that when I get it in my head what is needed, it clicks, and nothing else will do. They applied the same principals to the guest house. They also understood the need to make sure finishes were done well. Because The Renovator is a finishing carpenter originally and I am the queen of wanting things perfect, we’re quite particular about the finishes. Overwide grout lines, poorly cut trim and bad paint jobs stand out to us like the proverbial sore thumb. I’m pleased to say none of the above defects existed at Cooper’s Cove. I don’t know how much of the work they did themselves, but I can say it was done right by whomever completed it.

They also knew a tip that The Renovator and I are fully aware of. When you are planning a ‘full-on’ renovation you ‘live in’, do it one stage at a time. In the case of Cooper’s Cove, they didn’t redo the rooms at the same time they redid the kitchen, installed decks, added a hot tub, added an additional room and redid the landscaping. They did all of these things in separate stages, knowing that to do it all at once is nothing short of a trip to the looney bin, or at the least, needing large quantities of Prozac added to the daily diet.

My favorite room, which I didn’t get to spend near enough time in, was the kitchen. Because Angelo is a chef by trade and cooks the gourmet dinners as well as teaching cooking classes, it is obviously important that the kitchen be large and functional. With room for eight guest at the eating bar, we witnessed the chef’s steps in his creation process. Take note, your kitchen should NEVER be torn apart without a clear idea for what you want and need and a timeline to put it all together (don’t get me started on budget). Often the first idea isn’t the right idea, so keep thinking about alternatives and what could work better, what could be changed or improved.

A final learning from the weekend is that by knowing what you (or your guests as is the case) need, you’ll be more likely to make decisions that work. When Ina and Angelo decided to add on, the fourth guest room included not only its own patio, but also its own private entrance. I’m certain it would have been cheaper to omit the exterior door when they built the Blue Heron Room, but the point is that they didn’t. They recognized that people like privacy when at a romantic getaway. We want to come and go without notice sometimes and so, the exterior door was a great choice.

Next time we go, I really want to stay in the Blue Heron Room. I know the Renovator will love it as much as I will, and that’s why I love being The Renovator’s Wife.



Ronda Payne

A writer since she first held a pen, Ronda Payne – aka: the Girl with a Pen, is passionate about words. In 2007, she kissed ‘real jobs’ goodbye and began her true career as a copywriter, non-fiction freelance writer (magazines and other periodicals) and creative writer.


  1. Trudy on August 5, 2009 at 4:54 am

    great post!

    Trudy and The Handyman

    • renovatorswife on August 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

      Thanks Trudy! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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