One Year Later….A look back at renovating 151 Marion St

November 16th was the one year anniversary of Jewel Envy’s relocation to 151 Marion St. It has been a busy and wonderful year but getting here was not easy. This is the long awaited blog entry detailing the epic journey of the retail and studio space (two of the four floors)!

This is first image I have of the house. You may wonder why I am so close to the house and why I took a shot that was clearly blocked by trees. Well I had to stand this close to avoid getting the weeds in the viewfinder and it was the only way to see the house.

renovating jewel envy

The place was used as a rooming house with each floor having a kitchen and washroom and a variety of tenants. The owner bred dogs and yes you could smell them before seeing them. Many of the issues were cosmetic and aromatic, but overall the structure was good. I consulted with three structural engineers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC installers, general contractors, and pest control to make sure I wasn’t buying an infested house. Most pre-purchase inspectors wore a respirator once inside and commented on this being a disaster home but a good buy for the right price. I knew from the start I would be gutting the ground floor and basement to open up the space, while trying to preserve some of the old charm as the house was built in 1904 and had some lovely features.

These next few pictures show the cleaned up exterior of the house. We had to remove the fences around the front yard, some of the trees and the three foot high weeds got trampled during demolition.


renovating jewel envy


This area had a collapsed back deck and was home to weeds and waste. There were also some foundation issues causing leaking in the basement.
renovating jewel envyrenovating jewel envy
There was a giant crack in the side of the building filled with caulking, the window sills were cracked and a ready to fall apart.
renovating jewel envy
The roof was also leaking.
renovating jewel envy
This is the side view after clean up and restoration but before painting.

Now these views look like this:



renovating jewel envy 35renovating jewel envy 36


Next we have some pictures from inside the house before the demolition. Most people thought I was crazy but I could see past what was here and imagine what could and would be here.

renovating jewel envy 34


renovating jewel envy 32


renovating jewel envy 31

The entire basement was full of pallets of Russian teapots for sale, wedding dresses, and various other random items like hot plates and 90’s boom boxes. A path had to be cleared to walk through it to view the space.

renovating jewel envy 30

It is kind of hard to understand how the space looks from images so next up is the ground floor floor-plan and a few of the variations I designed along the way. I made lots of structural changes and some walls were removed while others were built.

renovating jewel envy plan 3renovating jewel envy plan 2
renovating jewel envy plan 1renovating jewel envy plan

By the last floor plan you can see how I managed to fit in everything I wanted with room to play around in the retail. I measured everything hundreds of times and tried repeatedly to explain to contractors that when they changed the plans by an 1″ it changed everything for me. I may have gone through about 50 versions of these plans before I settled on the final layout for Jewel Envy.

The day I got the keys we had a little ceremonial breaking of the wall with a sledgehammer, hard hats, and some heals (heals never to be allowed on site during the renovation again).

renovating jewel envy 1renovating jewel envy 101
renovating jewel envy101

I was at the renovation every day and part of every decision but I couldn’t have done it without the great team keeping the old space on Spadina going while I was away. Alexis was there to help, as she always is, every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better manager or friend!

Next I will include some before and after shots so it easier to make sense of the transformation.

Walking into Jewel Envy there is no longer a fireplace on the west wall.


renovating jewel envy23
renovating jewel envy22
Oddly enough the east wall also had a fireplace that had to be removed.
renovating jewel envy21renovating jewel envy20
The floors and trim are all original. We recycled wood from areas that were removed to preserve the historical elegance.
This is the view looking out onto Marion St.


renovating jewel envy19


renovating jewel envy18

The center wall was removed and posts and beams were put in so that 90% of the ground floor could be opened up for the best use of the space.


This is the view looking past the retail into the studio.


renovating jewel envy17
renovating jewel envy16

As a side note there are ten workbenches in the space, each with flex shaft, light, and torch. Having natural gas to the house allowed me to set up a wonderful system with torches upstairs and casting downstairs. I use oxygen generators at each station so this system is very safe!


This was once the ground floor kitchen and is now another workspace at Jewel Envy.


renovating jewel envy15renovating jewel envy14
renovating jewel envy13renovating jewel envy12
renovating jewel envy11

Next up the basement.


This area became the washroom, home to the draw bench, and one of the studio wash up sinks as well as various other pieces of equipment.


renovating jewel envy0renovating jewel envy9
renovating jewel envy8


We removed the closet behind the bin and opened up the space to become our polishing area.


renovating jewel envy7


renovating jewel envy6

There was a little asbestos surprise at some point along the way. But after the men in hazmat suits came in and cleared the way we were good to keep working on the area that houses our burn out kiln, enamelling kilns, and casting area.


renovating jewel envy5
renovating jewel envy4renovating jewel envy3
This post became part of the wall opposite the kilns.


renovating jewel envy2


This is now a clean space for enamelling.


renovating jewel envy1


 And on the other side of the wall is a clean kitchen with a computer and couch for work and relaxation!


renovating jewel envy
Where the sink is sitting there use to be a non-functioning bathroom raised on a concrete platform.

There are still a few landscaping things I have planned and of course I am always buying equipment so I guess it will always be a work in progress. Looking back over what has been done I am very proud of this endeavor. I can say this is exactly where I wanted to be at this stage in my career and I look forward to many more years in this location working with the wonderful artists who are a part of the space.

I encourage you to stop in anytime for a tour of the studio and a look and what our incredibly talented jewellers do here at Jewel Envy.


Leave a Reply