a reclaimed journey

TLB 1A Reclaimed Journey – Building Our Home With Recycled Materials

By Emory Ann Kurysh

When the idea to build our home first came to light, the goal was to make it look like a heritage barn conversion, primarily built from reclaimed materials. The benefits in doing so were vast and varied, not the least of which involved embracing our own creativity and challenging ourselves in the implementation of the design ideas.

Part of our motivation was driven by the knowledge that salvaging building materials cuts down on landfill waste and is environmentally impactful. Another factor is that the cost of recycled materials generally runs much lower than their newer counterparts, and reclaimed materials instantly add a sense of character that can’t easily be accomplished in new constructions. 

Ours was not a journey of how a completely recycled home came to be, but rather a lesson learned on the reality of using secondhand building materials.

The Big Picture

In planning our home, the most dominant design feature was to make use of reclaimed barn wood siding. But early into our build this became apparently difficult.

The first issue we ran into was that the lengths of the reclaimed boards were not long enough to run either horizontally or vertically without showing significant breaks. The second issue lay within the condition of the wood itself. It was extremely weathered, which was our initial draw to it, but would require significant work to prevent further deterioration to use it on the exterior of the home. The fear being that over time it would be exposed to issues such as accelerated rot, infestation and warping.

So we had to create a new strategy to get us the look we envisioned, but with a new durable material.

The decision was reached to use untreated rough-cut pine in place of the barn wood. Although it wasn’t originally in the plan and budget, this decision turned out to be the most aesthetically pleasing and soundest option.

Taking it Inside

The theme of recycled wood continued within the interior of the home. The handrail for the staircase was also to be constructed of barn wood. All of the balusters, guardrails, and posts were to be fabricated from pine, running horizontally. When we installed the staircase, we learned that it is against building code standards as the guardrail was deemed to be ‘climbable’. So yet another major design plan was discarded. The solution involved raw materials in the form of large, rough-cut beams and rebar. Again, this major alteration increased the budget. However, it provided a more stable handrail that was wholly unique and justly fitting for the overall look.

The ceiling was the third and final compromise in the use of reclaimed materials. The plan was for recycled metal roofing to be hung instead of drywall to reinforce the heritage barn concept. It would have saved on time, future maintenance and cost.

After conducting an extensive and unsuccessful search for a large quantity of reclaimed metal, the idea was scrapped.

It turned out this was for the best. Research later revealed that a metal ceiling would more than likely have created poor acoustics and could have affected resale value. It was ultimately the contractor’s suggestion to install a tongue and groove ceiling. A pine ceiling would not only be a quicker install than drywall, the wood would add strength and would be visually much more appealing.

Vintage Lighting

To stay true to the original design we were able to source vintage lighting for the exterior of the home. Five large, gooseneck, gas station lights were purchased from an online retail store dedicated to selling refurbished lighting. We found this to be more fitting than using modern fixtures. We liked that they would be unique to the home and that it would cut down on landfill waste.

Repurposing the Reclaimed

Rather than being used for its intended purpose, the barn wood that was gathered was eventually used in numerous projects around the home. The majority of the wood was repurposed for various storage solutions.

The reclaimed fir and other recycled wood was cut down and hung in every closet and pantry, and in the bathroom and bedroom as shelving. Various pieces of furniture were constructed out of the antique pine and fir. Two dog beds were custom-made from old pallets and casters. In some rooms, long pieces of shiplap were used as the trim.

The Journey

As first-time homebuilders, we understood going into this project that many of the design plans would either be modified in some way or altogether scrapped. Rather than using mostly reclaimed materials on the exterior and within the house, the end result was an amalgamation of new and raw materials.

We found the best impact in using recycled materials came from using these materials within the interior decoration of the home. Having these details within every room unquestionably added the character we were looking for in our new construction.

We achieved our one-of-a-kind heritage barn-inspired home by blending new with wonderful reclaimed and recycled materials which allowed for a quicker build, and a more solid house. While we learned a number of lessons along the way, the challenge we presented ourselves with at the onset of the project pushed us to look at every aspect of the building process to see how we could make an environmental impact.

TLB 2To read the article in its entirety, or to see more from the summer issue of Saskatoon HOME Magazine, please click here.



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i’m making a list, and checking it twice

List Making - Kinfolk 1I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a nutter. I strongly feel that most creative people are, if not every individual in general. There are so many disorders in existence, that there’s a good chance every person would have at least one of them. For example, these are a few of the issues that I feel I have traces of:

(and because I am afraid of the number 4) Lack of self-esteem

List Making - Kinfolk 3-1Yet, these are all self-diagnosed and quite manageable, for the most part. One of my biggest issues is that I cannot have free time, even if it’s for an hour. I have to constantly be doing something, otherwise I begin to dwell on things and soon fall into a depressive state. This is not because I am unhappy with my life, but rather, because I feel as if I should be doing more. Maybe that is why I had five jobs at the beginning of the year. 

In order to keep the events of my day straight, I keep a detailed list in my phone. These lists are down to the hour, and usually stretch into the next week. Every minute is accounted for, and the only time that I’m allowed to rest is when I’m sleeping, or in bed watching Netflix with my husband. I touched on this incessant planning a bit last year when I blogged about scheduling posts. I mentioned that I plan well in advance, and asked you guys if you do the same. Your answers surprised me, and I loved learning about your varying schedules. Now that I am attempting to once again publish posts five days a week, I have each weekday accounted for, up until the end of July. This of course will change a bit, but for the most part, I know what I will be writing about up to the end of next month.

Geoffrey and I spent Saturday running errands in town with our dogs. Every time we did a task, I would look at my phone to consult my list for the day. He said to me, “you and your damn lists.” I can’t help it. If I don’t write down what I’ll be doing that day, or next week, I feel lost and anxious. However, seeing it in front of me brings a huge relief, and makes me more productive as opposed to just ambling through my day. 

I was beginning to think that this was a serious issue, until I came across an article in the March 2015 edition of Kinfolk magazine. This particular article put my mind at ease, and taught me more about list-making than I knew before. I swear that this publication has brought nothing but good into my life. Here it is.



List Making - Kinfolk 4The Psychology of List Making

Why do we feel the need to make a list for every occasion, from grocery items to plans for world domination?

Lists keep our daily affairs in order, but they can also be distilleries of our deeper intentions. Regardless of their contents, they say a lot more about us than simply what we need to get done: They portray our expectations, self-criticisms and anxieties. In pursuit of moral perfection, Benjamin Franklin once drafted a list of what he deemed the necessary virtues in life. But not all innovative people have been as lofty as Ben when it comes to list making: The Finnish architect Eero Saarinen’s to-do list included changing the lightbulb; elsewhere he listed the characteristics of his wife that he found most favorable. Eccentric and banal lists alike testify to our desire to cultivate order out of the messy shards of the everyday, and there is much to be gained from transmuting our goals into brief notes on a piece of paper.

Psychologists have found that we’re hard-wired to function better when we have a plan. In 1927, Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people recall unfinished tasks more accurately than finished ones. Psychologists R.F. Baumeister and E.J. Masicampo have since updated the so-called Zeigarnik effect when they discovered that people also perform better at one task once they’ve created a concrete plan for completing their other uncompleted tasks. Using this logic, it means you’ll more keenly tackle writing your staff newsletter if you’ve already created a plan to categorize last week’s emails afterward. By allotting yourself time to complete each task on your list, you’ll engage more presently with what’s at hand because you know the next activity will be given its own time in due course.

But sometimes even the most articulate and carefully crafted to-do lists can’t save us from procrastination or from the temptation to whip up a batch of scones instead of paying our gas bill. On some days, you just want to accept defeat from your overwhelming list of unaccomplished chores, responsibilities and life goals.

Fortunately, you can dispel anxiety over the unfinished entries of today’s list by condensing your unfinished list for tomorrow. To-do lists often work best when they value quality over quantity – Henry David Thoreau advised us to keep our accounts on our thumbnail, the shorter the better. The visceral act of checking a box can provide an addictive sense of satisfaction, but the best to-do lists should only contain essential tasks rather than fodder that makes us feel accomplished and ultimately distracted from our goals.

For everything else, we can forgive ourselves for allowing the dynamism of life to take us off course. Besides, if accomplishing everything requires us to sacrifice a meaningful engagement with our activities, perhaps it would be better to drop what we’re doing and make those scones after all.

by Sammi Massey

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jack the ripper unmasked?

1I’m not usually one to comment about events in the news. I don’t have cable, listen to the radio, or read the newspaper for a reason. However, given that my undergrad is in history and art history, and I am a fan of Sherlock, I feel as if I am more than equipped to report this story to my edu-ma-cated readers. After all, I do avidly follow Daily Mail. Mostly for the celebrities. And the comments. The comments are hilarious. 

I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone has heard about Jack the Ripper. Most know that he was never officially identified, though some could argue that he was, in a way, ‘caught’. Many of those people also know the gruesome details of his crimes. Fewer know that over the last millennium, members of Scotland Yard, as well as other credible individuals, have given certain suspects the title Jack the Ripper. Although there was never any physical proof, they were basing their accusations on other circumstantial evidence. Never any DNA evidence until now, that is.

If curiosity is killing you crazy cats, and you would like me to stop writing and start unveiling, then alright. Here you go:

The serial murdered known as Jack the Ripper was <<< click here >>>

I wonder if the rest of the week will be this eventful? 



article-2746321-21208C4300000578-24_634x485These are a few of my favourite comments from the article. *Spoiler alert*

“Whoever Jack The Ripper was, the chances of arresting him are not good. I have a hunch he maybe dead.” – BodieCI5, London, United Kingdom

“If caught today would of got at least 5yrs inside with no parole.” – mickthe…., burton on trent, United Kingdom

“Poles! Coming over here, stealing our Serial Killer’s jobs!” – Howard, London, United Kingdom

hey there, lefty

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 8.36.07 PMYesterday was my mum’s birthday. You know, the woman that comments almost daily on my blog and never fails to offer her infinite wisdom to me and my readers? It was also the day that I decided to crack open Issue 13 of Kinfolk Magazine, otherwise known as The Imperfect Issue

This issue read much differently than other Kinfolk issues. It was filled with arbitrary knowledge, the history of mistakes, and many, many twins. It began with a quote by Leonard Cohen (a rather brilliant quote about imperfection), and ended with an article on left-handedness. My mum is left-handed, and so I immediately thought of her when I saw and subsequently read the article. Not just because it was her birthday, but because she, too, is awesome and unique.

This post is for my mum.



“There is a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.”

– Leonard Cohen

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 8.36.23 PMA Letter From Lefty

Dear Mr. Right,

My sincerest apologies in advance if you struggle to read this note, if not for its radical honesty then for the fact that my fountain pen’s ink is smudging across the paper.

As the Thelma to your Louise, I’d like to tell you a little about life on my side of the vertical equator. After all, there are upsides to being a southpaw.

While only one in ten humans is a lefty, there’s a lopsided contingent that has made history. For every left-handed psychopath such as Jack the Ripper or Alexander the Great, there has been a genius counterpart in Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci. Since the end of WWII, more than half of the US presidents have been left-handed – including Obama and Clinton – and there are a disproportionate number of us among Mensa’s ranks. We may be potential sorcerers to the Inuit and cursed to the Moroccans, but we’re also healers to the Incas and luck-filled to the Zuni.

It’s no surprise that my moniker’s etymology isn’t in my favour either. Why do women never seek Mr. Left? Why does a leader have his right-hand man but the uncoordinated have two left feet? And to expands beyond the Queen’s english: The Italians share one word for both sinister and left, as well as treacherous and left-handed, and the word for clumsy in German refers to us too. Even the term ambidextrous comes from the Latin word “to be right on both sides.” I’ll never win.

Everything in this world that was built for your palms is a challenge we must surmount. Scissors that don’t cut. Can openers that don’t open. Computer mice that don’t click. Power tools that risk accidental catastrophic hemorrhages. We knock elbows when eating at tables and poke eyes with bows when playing in orchestras. Even the humble handshake is in your favour.

However, there are aspects of life where we do have an advantage. The left side of the body is controlled bu the right side of the brain, but we use the left’s neurons more on a day-to-day basis. Because of this daily communication, it means we form stronger neural pathways between the hemispheres, making us quicker decision makers, faster processors and better multitasks. And it goes beyond the cranial too: With 3,400 words to be typed solely using the left hand versus 450 words with the right, we’re faster typists. We don’t have to swap our forks to our eating hand when cutting up and consuming dinner. With our proclivity to choose the left line over the right, we spend less time standing in lines by default (even Disneyland officials say so). We adapt to seeing underwater more clearly. We’re less likely to get arthritis or ulcers.

But quirkiness aside, shall I tell you what’s ultimately in our favour? Evolution.

If we were really at a disadvantage, Darwin’s theory of natural selection would have cast us off eons ago. But here we still are. And why? Combat. That’s correct – if it came down to you and me in a fight fight, evolution has determined that I’ll always have the slightest advantage. When you were growing up as a Neanderthal more than 400,000 years ago, you became more acquainted with duelling with right-handers. So when a lefty suddenly jumped out of a cave and confronted your tribe, each jab we threw came at a surprising angle and gave us the proverbial upper hand. It’s what makes us better baseball batters and Olympic fencers, and it’s the reason nature has deemed us worthy of biological selection. In the long term, it is I who will reign.

So what do you say, Mr. Right? Can we shake on this?



by Georgia Frances King

have you seen haveheart

IMG_1.jpgIt’s that time of the month again! No, not that time. I’m referring to my monthly reveal of HaveHeart Magazine. August’s issue was just released, and boy, oh boy, is it a good one!

There are articles on:

Traveling to Las Vegas
Summer Reads
The Spinning Yogi
Backdrop DIY (mine, which is last but not least)

So grab your sunnies and your smart phones, get outside, pull up your lawn chairs, and get reading! This month’s edition has nothing but summertime goodness.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 1.10.07 PM



  • Hello! My name is Emory. I am a wife, mother of four (three on earth in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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