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Scott McGillivray’s Favourite Reno Tricks for Saving Money in Every Room

Scott McGillivray’s Favourite Reno Tricks for Saving Money in Every Room

Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.


Saving money is at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to renovating. While there are some elements you should always splurge on, there are other features that allow you to get a great look for less. Here are some of my favourite tricks for saving money in every room of your home during a renovation.

Architectural Mouldings
I love the look of architectural mouldings in living rooms and dining rooms, but traditional applications aren’t cheap. In order to save money in my renovation projects, I use applied moulding to mimic the look. For instance, instead of traditional wainscoting, I might create picture boxes using chair rail. All you have to do is cut the pieces to size and then attach them using a nail gun. Paint them the same colour as the wall to complete the look.

Refacing Cabinet Doors
If your kitchen is need of an overhaul, but new cabinets aren’t in the budget, consider refacing the cabinet doors. This technique is more expensive than paint, but if done professionally, it will make your cabinets look brand new. It will also avoid the hassle of a traditional renovation and you won’t send anything to the landfill. In many cases you can also replace the doors while leaving the cabinets perfectly intact. A great way to slash your kitchen reno costs!

Stone Cut Offs
These days I use a lot of Quartz that’s cut to size; but if you want to install a stone counter and don’t want to pay the high price, visit a granite or marble supplier and ask if they have any cut offs. There are often leftover pieces from previous projects that they’re willing to sell for less. Use these small pieces for kitchen islands, bathroom vanities and laundry room countertops. It’s a great way to get the material you want at a fraction of the price.


Related: Ask Scott: Where Should I Focus My Small Renovation Budget?

Vinyl Plank Floors
There was a time when professional interior designers would shudder at the thought of vinyl floors, but let me tell you, they’ve come a very long way in the last few years. So, if you want the look of traditional hardwood without the hefty price tag, it’s worth exploring vinyl plank options. I won’t go so far as to say you can’t tell the difference, but you can definitely get a similar look. Plus, it’s durable and waterproof, so unlike traditional hardwood, you can use it below grade and in bathrooms.

Cheap Tile
When I say “cheap” I really only mean in terms of price. There are tons of good quality, inexpensive tile options available, so don’t be fooled into thinking you need to spend a lot. If it so happens that you’ve fallen in love with something really expensive and can’t find a comparable alternative, use it as a small feature (like above the sink) and surround it with something inexpensive. Don’t blow your budget in a place where you won’t get any decent return. It’s just not worth it.

Related: 10 Unusual Tile and Grout Combos We Love in Kitchens and Bathrooms

“Custom” Shelving
Extra storage is often helpful in mudrooms, living rooms, home offices and even dining rooms. If custom built-ins aren’t in your budget, you can get the same look at a fraction of the cost by using standard shelving units from a big-box store and then adding some moulding. I like to install a series of shelving units side by side and then attach a piece of moulding to the top, bottom and between each unit. If done properly, people will assume it’s custom.


Images Courtesy of HGTV Canada and Getty Images

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