Embarking on a full home renovation can seem like a daunting task for even the most eager and organized homeowners. This busy Toronto couple met with dozens of contractors and reviewed several sky-high quotes before finally deciding to go it alone. From building schedules and budgets to sourcing finishing materials and hiring tradespeople, they did it all themselves and saved close to $75,000 in the process. Take a look at the finished product and learn some useful tips on how to manage your own renovation.
Have a Vision
Both creative types and avid travellers, Denise and Russell wanted their home to be airy and art-filled. They liked the existing layout of the house so it was a matter of lightening and brightening finishes, widening doorways and creating integrated storage space. Have a clear vision for your finished home and revisit it often throughout the renovation because it’s easy to get lost in the details.
Make Use of All Extra Material
The cozy gas fireplace is surrounded by a custom-built mantle made of Laminam porcelain, which is heat resistant. The homeowners were able to use the extra material from large slabs purchased for the kitchen in the design of the fireplace – a cost-saving advantage.
Create a Functional Entrance
“With a small child, we really felt that a place to tuck away boots, coats and a diaper bag was essential,” says Denise. They gave the front entrance a facelift with grey chevron tile and a broadened doorway large enough to accommodate a stroller.
Keep a Spreadsheet Handy
It’s possible to achieve a high-end look without having everything custom-made. Keep a spreadsheet handy with room measurements to reference when you’re shopping for shelving or storage. White aluminum shelves fit this nook in the living room perfectly to display a colourful selection of books.
Give Closets a Custom Feel
The open-concept wardrobe in their daughter’s bedroom is actually a PAX system without doors from Ikea. “We had our carpenter finish the edges to hide any gaps so that it appears built-in for a fraction of the cost,” says Denise. The finished look is a polished piece that displays an adorable array of baby clothing and accessories.
Splurge on Cool Technology
Once you’re ready to decorate, start with the spaces that are most used by your family and invest in quality tech gadgets like televisions and smart home systems.
Add Personality With Unexpected Touches
Avoid a completely boring design by making a few surprising selections, especially with relatively inexpensive items like paint and light fixtures. “We didn’t want a typical pink room for our little girl so we decided to paint the ceiling a pale pink,” says Russell.
Keep a Slush Fund
Built-in ceiling speakers and hidden amps pipe festive tunes in the kitchen during dinner parties or holidays. “We decided to include ceiling speakers when we were installing the potlights, since our electrician was onsite and it was a minimal added expense,” says Russell. “We left a small slush fund in the budget for unforeseen costs but it also allowed us to capitalize on opportunities.”
Mix it Up
A decorative tile perfectly highlights the modern custom cabinetry from Lev2 and wall-mounted Dyson cyclone v10 in the laundry room. Most tile distributors offer contractor or designer discounts so it’s worth telling the sales associate that you’re acting as a contractor to score a discount, especially if you are buying a large quantity.
Slice and Dice Storage
“I don’t think there was one room in which we didn’t modify the storage,” recalls Denise. They merged the two adjoining bedroom closets into one larger wall-to-wall unit for the master. That meant losing a closet in the guest bedroom, which they made up for with a small dresser and a spacious queen-sized mattress to keep overnight guests happy.
Keep it Classic
Renovating a bathroom can provide the biggest return on your renovation investment so choose your finishes and fixtures carefully, as they can be costly to swap out later. A palette of white, black and grey is widely appealing and timeless. The homeowners wisely chose white marble subway tile for the master bath with black fixtures from Delta‘s contemporary Trinsic line for a striking look.
Listen to the Experts
When the couple originally set out on the renovation project, they weren’t planning on completing the basement but were convinced to finish it by some of the trade workers. “They told us that if we didn’t do the basement then, we probably never would,” says Russell. “When we saw the amount of dust and debris it created throughout the whole house, we were so glad we did it at the same time.”
Opt for Functionality
The result is a finished basement space that provides additional storage, a swoon-worthy pantry and a laundry area complete with a functional silgranit sink and faucet from Blanco. “It’s actually my favourite area in the whole house,” says Denise. “It was totally worth re-jigging the budget and timeline to complete.”
Redeem the Rebates
Do your research on the energy savings and rebates available to you and work with licensed companies to ensure eligibility. “We discovered we had a leaky basement once we started to put up drywall so we had to invest in waterproofing the exterior and installing a sump pump,” says Russell. “We were able to get a $2,000 rebate for the work through a city subsidy program.” The couple put the rebate towards a new BBQ, which they enjoy on their waterproofed back patio in the summer months.