To renovate or not to renovate?

The little voice in the back of my head keeps nagging me. About ‘what’ you ask. Whether or not to renovate the basement bathroom?

When I bought this house in 2010 I had mapped out a detailed five-year renovation plan.

My plan included painting the entire house from top to bottom, replacing all but one light fixture (the only one I liked), retiling the main bathroom floor, installing crown moulding and wainscoting in the living room and dining room, removing the old deck in the backyard and replacing it with a stone patio, as well as renovating the basement bathroom.

The list is almost finished. But there is still one item left on the ‘To Do’ list without a check mark next to it. The basement bathroom.

Do I want to go from this?

Current bathroom
Current bathroom

To this?

Designer bathroom
Designer bathroom

Bathroom renovations don’t come cheap.

So, do I go ahead and gut the bathroom and start from scratch? Or do I salvage what I can and update only what is necessary? I’m torn. Some days, I am ready to demo the old outdated bathroom and other days I think a fresh coat of paint, new light fixture and vanity will do.

But then the little voice returns.

A newly renovated bathroom will increase the value of my home. Which leads me down another path and another question, do I sell or do I stay?


Vote for the top paint colours

Top paint trends for 2015

I grew up in a mostly beige house. My parents shied away from colour.

When I was a teen, I painted my bedroom mint green. In my first condo, I experimented with accent walls. And in my first home, I picked steel grey for my kitchen.

Choosing a paint colour is easy for some and overwhelming for others. It can be hard to image what your room will look like from a small paint chip. There are so many paint colours it can be confusing. And then there’s the fear of picking the wrong colour and having to live with it.

Paint chips
Paint chips

Nowadays, the experts are making it easier to pick paint colours.

Benjamin Moore has chosen Guilford Green as the colour of the year and describe it as a silvery green that works with everything. The colour was on display at the International Design Show inToronto.

Guilford Green
Guilford Green

Para Paints has selected Spectrolite as its colour of the year. It is a deep shade of celestial blue.

While Farrow & Ball picked paler colours for the trends of 2015, including Pink Ground, Light Blue and Breakfast Room Green.

While BEHR shows off Essential Teal, Secret Blush and Sonic Blue in the 2015 Colour and Style trends video.

Deciding on a wall colour is personal. You know the colours you love instantly by the way they make you feel.

What colours do you tend to stick with?

Highlights from the International Design Show in Toronto

Wandering through the display kitchens and bathrooms, flipping through fabric swatches and paint chips at the International Design Show is an annual tradition for me. I’m always looking for ‘inspiration’ and that one unique piece for my place.

This year’s show featured beautifully, hand-crafted, wooden furniture perfect for your summer home (if you’re lucky enough to have one).

Wooden furniture
Wooden furniture

Sticking with the cottage theme, Urban Barn showed off its beach and nautical inspired pillows, throws and accessories for your living room, bedroom or home office.

Anchor pillow
Anchor pillow

If ‘anchors’ aren’t your thing, there were also plenty of ‘Canadiana’ cottage accessories on display.

Canadiana cottage
Canadiana cottage

I don’t know about you, but I sure am ready for summer. So too, are the designers at the show. A touch of outdoors was brought indoors for those already shopping for patio furniture.

Miniature greenhouse
Miniature greenhouse

Before I was done strolling up and down the aisles, I came across this napkin and thought to myself, ‘this is why I come to the design show.’ Where do you find your inspiration?

Where do you find inspiration?
Where do you find inspiration?

If money was no object, where would you spend your decorating dollars?

How a natural disaster turned into a small, spa retreat

The July 2013 storm flooded my mother’s bungalow. She was one of hundreds of thousands to find approximately four feet of water in the basement. You or someone you know may have been in a similar position.

Very little was salvaged from the flood. It took months to clean and renovate the damaged basement.

Renovating the bathroom was one of the many projects I took on.

‎The dated bathroom from the ‘80s got a facelift. The oversized, wooden cabinet was torn out, the tiles ripped out and toilet replaced.

The look of the new bathroom is now modern and with a spa-like feel. Muted grey, porcelain tiles for the floor, white subway tiles for the stand-up shower and Benjamin Moore, London Fog paint for the walls.

Bathroom Faucet
Bathroom Faucet

A new, espresso-coloured cabinet from IKEA was installed, with white sink, a chrome faucet and matching oval mirror.

The finishing touches included fluffy, white towels to match the trim, a soft, smoky grey bath mat and lavender hand soap.

What started out as a disaster slowly turned into a retreat.

Renovated Bathroom
Renovated Bathroom

All the world’s a stage

Everything I know about staging a home I learned from the TV show, Sell This House.

I staged my first condo and sold it in less than a week. Then I staged my first fix and flip. Potential home buyers told my real estate agent that they thought it was professionally staged. After being on the market for a week and a two-day open house, I received seven offers for the house.

When staging your house, remember to de-clutter. Remove all unnecessary furniture, small kitchen appliances and knick-knacks from your end tables, book shelves and bedroom side tables. This helps each room appear larger and provides better flow through the house.

Clean the house from top-to-bottom. You want to make your house sparkle. A spotless house also shows potential home buyers that it is well taken care of.

Patch and paint any scuffs or cracks on the walls. The more the house appears turn-key ready, the better for re-sale.

Remove all personal photos of yourself from walls, bookshelves and end tables. This will help potential home buyers picture themselves living in your home.

Let light in. Draw the curtains and blinds to brighten up the room and turn on all the lights. Natural and artificial light help make the house appear bright and cheery as opposed to dark and gloomy.

And lastly, fill the rooms with fresh cut flowers. The look and smell of fresh cut flowers will help entice any potential home buyer.

Fresh cut sunflowers from the market
Fresh cut sunflowers from the market

8 must see ‘before & after’ home reno photos

The renovations of my first flip lasted two and a half years. It was worth it. I would do it all over again. Here are some ‘before and after’ photos:

Front Room - Before
Front Room – Before
Front Room - After
Front Room – After
Middle Room - Before
Middle Room – Before
Middle Room - After
Middle Room – After
Kitchen - Before
Kitchen – Before
Kitchen - After
Kitchen – After
Master - Before
Master – Before
Master - After
Master – After

The secrets to house flipping

Over seven years ago, I took the plunge and became a first-time house flipper. I was obsessed with the TV show, Flip This House, and watched it religiously. I thought to myself, I can do this. And so began the journey.

The house was a two-storey, semi-detached, Victorian fixer upper. It sat on a quiet, tree-lined street in an upcoming neighbourhood with nosy neighbours. The house had a lot of charm, including a stain glass front window, original hardwood flooring throughout and a claw foot bathtub. But it was in need of a lot of work.
It had absolutely zero curb appeal. The rickety front porch would need to be replaced. Walls would need to be torn down to create an open concept. Every wall in the house repainted to cover the hideous peach paint colour. The carpet on the stairs would need to be torn out, steps and risers sanded and painted. A tiny closet in the master bedroom would need to be removed and replaced with built-in closets. Every light fixture and faucet would also go. The un-kept backyard had to be cleared to turn it into a livable, outdoor space. It was no small feat and would take the better part of two and a half years.


First, the budget. How much would I need to spend in order to turn a profit? My real estate agent helped determine the going rate for comparable homes in the neighbourhood. It was up to me to figure out how much I was willing to spend to renovate the house. The magic number would end up being $45,000.

Second, the master plan and timeline. What was I going to renovate and how long would it take to get it all done? The master plan was a long one and it included; a rebuilt front porch, open concept living room/dining room, built in closets, new light fixtures, new kitchen and bathroom faucets, refurbishing the claw foot tub, painting the entire house, new siding, sod for both the front and backyards and a flagstone patio. I would live in the house and aim to have it completed in three years.

Third, the help. How much could I do on my own and when would I need to hire a professional? The smaller projects, I took on my own with the help of my husband, family and friends. The bigger, more complex projects, I would need to hire a professional.

I worked full-time, so every evening, weekend and vacation time was spent renovating the house. It consumed my entire life.