Spring has sprung – let the renovation designs begin!

kitchen imageI’m sure you’ll agree that we’ve just come through a crazy winter weather season. That said, you’d never know we are now into spring and still coping with crazy weather patterns. Ah well, I still always look forward to spring with brighter and longer days and a promise of sorts with milder weather.  I think of spring as a time of renewal – seeing the trees bud and watching that dull brown patch of front yard grass grow greener every day. Although this year you’d be hard pressed to believe that spring has sprung.

On the subject of renewal, spring is also a reminder about all those home projects we jotted down on a list and talked about in the dark of winter agreeing that once the weather changed we’d find the money and look into getting some of them done.  I know I certainly made my wish list a little while ago in preparation for better weather.  In fact, I came across this recent article in the Saturday Star that might interest you too.  http://www.thestar.com/life/homes/decor/2013/03/14/kitchen_renos_require_planning_and_a_healthy_budget.html

As a designer, I frequently hear friends talk about their renovation projects especially the bathroom and kitchen ones.  Many times the conversation goes into great detail about the fixtures and finishes, lighting, flooring, etc. and when I casually ask what they think it would cost, the answers absolutely floor me, no pun intended.  It’s at times like this when I am reminded that when you aren’t aware of what products cost or what labour charges are, you are leaving yourself open to either paying a lot of money for low or mediocre quality products and workmanship, or you get talked into spending way more money for just ‘good’ not ‘superior’ quality products or workmanship. Settling for low or mediocre quality renovation work is just as bad as over spending on a project.  However, if when planning for your project ‘quality of products and workmanship’ is foremost on your wish list, you should investigate and learn about what a good quality renovation job costs and realign your budget accordingly.  To get the desired quality for all the ‘wants and needs’ for the project may cost a little more than you thought it would.  A realigned budget will also allow for hidden problems that weren’t visible until the project began……problems such as mould in a bathroom project.

Speaking of mould, you may not be aware that the surrounding walls of a bath tub or shower stall in a 20+ year old home were most likely constructed of dry wall unlike the new cement board product used in bathrooms today. Cement board is a strong, water-durable base for ceramic, porcelain and stone tiles in a tub and shower area. In older homes, if a leak of any kind occurred behind the tub or shower stall walls, chances are that some form of mould will have set in.  In a case like this, you may not know you have a problem until you decide to renovate. And, before any renovations can take place the mould issue will need to be addressed first.  In some instances, where mould has spread across a major part of the bathroom, a mould removal specialist may be required to get the job done properly so that you and your family aren’t exposed to major long term health issues. As well, depending on the severity of the mould issue, it can become a pricey fix which can mean a realignment of your initial renovation budget.


kitchen image2When I worked in the Decor department at Home Depot, I got the opportunity to talk to several customers daily.  One time, a customer I helped in the tile isle recounted a rather hairy story about his recent house purchase. Most first time home owners are usually quite ebullient about their new purchase.  In his case, it was quite the opposite. He had won the right to purchase a post-war bungalow after a bidding war, and wasn’t able to get a home inspection done as the vendor wasn’t entertaining any bids with conditions – first red flag.  After two fairly brief visits to the house for window treatment measurements, he noticed an odd smell in the main bathroom but attributed it to a fresh paint smell – second red flag. Only after moving into the home did he notice that the smell was getting worse.  He found out that behind all the bathroom walls and the floor was the blackest and most horrific mould problem. The smell was mould not fresh paint.  The new tile floor in the bathroom was improperly laid, possibly done to cover up water damage.  On closer inspection, a few of the tiles just popped up to reveal mould below.  After consulting a few general contractors, he was strongly advised to get a mould removal expert to handle the problem before a general contractor could start work on a new bathroom…….it was a $10,000+ lesson for winning the bidding war!


If you are planning a bathroom or kitchen renovation this spring, seek the advice and information from an accredited designer or decorator.  They have worked with home owners and know what expensive mistakes to avoid.  As well, accredited designers and decorators work with reputable licensed and insured general contractors who are able to spot and recommend fixes.  In combination, the designer and general contractor work with you to create space solutions and work flow issues, and the designer can recommend and purchase all the fittings and finishes that meet with your design and style needs.  Also, both these subject matter experts can help you create a realistic budget, detect problems, provide you with design ideas and help you create a reasonable plan for your renovation.

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