Something as simple as a paint job throughout or some tiles in the kitchen can bring a home into the 21st century
There are a myriad of relatively inexpensive ways to bring a bathroom, kitchen or bedroom into the 21st century, beginning with a new colour palette and modern accessories. For a complete transformation, however, more substantial elements of the space should be changed -like cabinetry, countertops and flooring. It's all about what the homeowner needs, can afford, and how much return they're expecting from their investment.
Sometimes a simple change like a fresh coat of paint can spruce up an outdated room. "Painting is one of those easy, inexpensive things that can be done in a few days and can have a significant impact on a renovation," said Frank Turco, senior manager of trend and design for Home Depot Canada. "You're refreshing the walls, so you're also repairing holes and cracks -therefore, enhancing the esthetics of the walls. And a fresh coat of paint is cleaner; it can hide odours."
Turco recommends changing the light fixtures in the room, another relatively inexpensive way to revamp a space. "Lighting can impact a room -it can make colours on a wall look lighter or darker, put attention on a focal point, and create mood."
Wallpaper is also back, but not in a wall-to-wall fashion; Turco suggests papering just one wall for more visual effect.
Homeowners can opt for printed wallpaper or new paintable wallpaper. "If you want to create wainscotting, buy a chair rail for the middle of the wall and then paint it white or apply textured paintable wallpaper beneath it," he said.
Finally, update a space by changing the hardware and faucets. Again, this can be an inexpensive or pricey move, depending on the material and design of the accessories chosen.
Sometimes there's no way to renovate a room other than to completely gut it. If new countertops, vanities, cabinetry and flooring are on the to-do list, then it's time to start planning a major project.
Many homeowners decide to take the DIY plunge and go it alone. But when a renovation requires plumbing, electricity or other specialized work, it may be more advisable to hire experts. And managing a team of workers can be overwhelming, so hiring a contractor can become a valuable investment.
"Contractors can take over the headache," said Albert Dayan, a contractor with Perfect Prestige. "If you try to be the contractor, then you have to hire an electrician, a plumber and a guy to lay ceramics -you end up with 15 contractors. You lose time and money." Hiring a contractor eases that burden. "We do everything for the customer."
A contractor also knows where to get cost-efficient supplies quickly, Dayan said. "I can see the end result before I even start working on a space, because I have more experience. I consider what the client wants and can help them choose everything. Because I'm a contractor, I have faster access and better deals on supplies."
Sometimes gutting the entire space isn't necessary; Turco said that kitchens, for example, can be renovated by simply revamping certain key elements.
"Some houses will have old, dated laminate countertops," he said, "but countertops today that mimic granite and stone can be sold pre-fab. Buy a 6x10-foot piece and edge finishing. It takes a little labour (considering the sink and faucet component), but it can completely transform the room."
Turco also suggested switching the tile backsplash. Tiles are relatively inexpensive and it's a pretty straightforward DIY project.
New flooring will also revive a kitchen.
"Vinyl may sound dated," Turco said, "but it has come back in a huge way. Today's vinyl (flooring) is amazing -there's stone looks, outdoor paver looks, hardware plank looks; it's completely revolutionized, but still very affordable and easy to install. Laminates are also easy to install and come in hardwood as well as stone looks."
If you're renovating your bathroom, consider updating the vanity and bathroom accessories.
A renovation project can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, and many homeowners want to know whether their investment will pay off if they sell their home. A kitchen renovation almost always increases a home's value, as does a bathroom reno -particularly the master bath.
"As long as the bones of the house are in good shape, I would recommend a renovation to bring up the value of the home," said Meghan O'Donnell, affiliated real-estate agent with Groupe Sutton Centre Ouest Inc. "It really depends on the motive of the client and whether they need to sell quickly."
Which is not to say, of course, you should be updating your home only if you're planning to sell. After all, you live there now; make it the best place it can be.
Some do's and don'ts of home renovations
- Do go with a company that can provide licences and references. It's not uncommon for contractors to be asked for these.
- Do make sure you've established a project budget.
- Do take this opportunity to purge. Get rid of junk; the last thing you want to do is renovate for your old junk.
- Do think about what you want out of your renovation. If you need a home office, incorporate one into your plan; if you're a baker, have a functional baking area in your kitchen. Think about your lifestyle and make sure the renovation fits your needs.
- Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Look through magazines and get inspired. Even when something might appear unattainable, don't be too quick to discard it; give it a chance and you might find a way to make it work.
- Don't think of immediate needs, but consider the long term. This is especially true if you're planning to stay in your home for a while. What are you going to need five years from now, for example?
- Don't be afraid to overspend, provided it's reasonable. If you're talking four to 10 per cent over budget and, at the end of the day, it's going to make you and your family happy, then it just might be worth it.