Let’s face it. Renovating is expensive and there are endless options for finishes and style to choose from. How do you know where to spend and where to save?   

After renovating and designing homes for 15 years, I must confess that sometimes I fantasize about putting my business card in some mailboxes after watching an expensive exterior renovation end in obvious disappointment.   While budgets  are realities for most people, the way you distribute dollars spent in your budget can make the difference between WOW and OOPS. 

A few tips: 


What is the current resale value of your home?  What are similar sized, renovated homes in your neighbourhood selling for now?  What is the difference between the previous two questions?  The answer should help you define your budget to ensure you don’t over-renovate your home. An experienced realtor or home appraiser can help you determine this information. 


Once you’ve determined a maximum budget to spend, consider all options. The biggest oops is having your blinders on to save money.  Be open to changing the “visual base” or “bones” of your space in order to achieve lasting and transformational change. While this can feel like a splurge in your budget, keeping the “elephant in your room” can limit success. That “elephant” can be the layout of your space, flooring, cabinetry or, in the case of exterior renovations, leaving older brick in place. All can be expensive to change, but ask yourself what is the cost if you keep it?  Make the break and update the bones of your space. With an updated “base” to build on, you can truly achieve an updated look. Many times I have recommended doing nothing for now, waiting until clients are ready to fully tackle the project in order to achieve the look and function they want.  It’s usually better to wait and do it right the first time so you’re happy with the end result. 


First, get the layout right. You can always upgrade to higher end finishes later, but if your layout is wrong the space will never feel and function the way you want. SPEND to get the kitchen cabinets configured properly then SAVE by installing great looking laminate countertops, pre-fab cabinets, or refacing cabinet door fronts where possible. Avoid splurging on gorgeous quartz countertops over old kitchen cabinets with a dated kitchen layout.  


Whether your budget is high or low, research current trends on Instagram, Houzz, and Pinterest to ensure that you aren’t making choices that are already starting to date. Choose classic, timeless finishes for the bones of your space, then add your style and personality in less permanent ways such as using fun paint colours, pillows and accessories, artwork and area rugs. It’s faster and less costly to update your space with a can of paint and some new accessories than ripping out your tiled backsplash in the kitchen!


Unless this home is your forever home and resale isn’t an issue for you, keep in mind what future buyers are looking for as you renovate. No one wants to buy a house that’s been renovated badly. There is a fine line between a home that has “great style and personality” and one that is unique but “quirky”.  Express your “individuality” with easily removable items such as artwork and furniture.  When you’re ready to sell, temporarily remove those items to ensure the space is visually pleasing yet neutral. 

And don’t forget to have fun!  Deciding to renovate your home is an optimistic statement of hope for the future!  Don’t forget to smile and laugh a lot along the way!  It will be worth it in the end!!