Navigating Your Renovation Budget

Navigating Your Renovation Budget

When considering a renovation, there typically comes a time when compromises need to be made.  Unless you have an abundant supply of money to renovate,  there is only so much you can do.  This held true for our recent home renovation.  My mantra throughout this entire renovation project was: This is not my forever home.  So how did I navigate our renovation budget?

Navigating A Renovation Budget


In most renovation projects I work on, there is usually one area where a ‘splurge’ will be made.  It might be the flooring, it might be the kitchen counters, or it might be the furniture you use to decorate your new space.  There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to areas to splurge as everyone’s situation is so different. What is important here is to know, or be educated, on what will give you the best ROI (return on investment) on your splurge.  How do you find this out?  Find out what the homes around you are doing.  Talk to real estate agents who know your area and what’s selling and what’s not.  Educate yourself!

My Splurge: Kitchen

I chose quartz over granite and spent twice as much on quartz than granite.  It was a splurge I was willing to make.  I wiggled and tweaked the budget to get these damn counters!  That’s how much I am in love with them.

navigation your renovation budget

In the area I live in, specifically in kitchens, most people either have granite or quartz counters or want them.  If you don’t have that in your home (and you’re trying to sell), there will most likely be a consistent comment potential buyers will make:  “Oh….there’s no granite or quartz.”

Ask any real estate agent and they will tell you:  kitchens and bathrooms garner the most attention as they are typically the two areas where major renovations take place.  Mike Holmes goes on to say,

“Kitchen and bathroom improvements increase the value of your house more than most renovations and offer the highest average return on investment.”

I don’t think I will ever regret the decision to go with quartz counters.

My Splurge: Flooring

In my renovation project,  all of our flooring needed to be replaced.  Oh – let me rephrase that.  In my opinion, all of our flooring needed to be replaced.  Ask my hubby and he would have given you a different answer.   After researching our area, the best choice of flooring for our home was going to be hardwood.  It’s the same thing I just talked about with the counters above.  We could have gone with a luxury laminate however we really wanted hardwood and it is what most people in our area are installing.  We chose a hand scraped hardwood and had the entire main floor installed with this flooring.

navigation your renovation budget

We also had this flooring installed in all three bedrooms.  Best decision I ever made putting hardwood in the bedrooms!  The main drive behind installing hardwood on the entire main floor was that I wanted flow from the front to the back of my home (no transition pieces).  Knowing that my entrances are hardwood, I am choosing to use area carpets and in the winter, they will be heavy duty (and still pretty) to stand up to the moisture we will have on our shoes and boots from the snow and wet.


In our renovation, we added in the following as extras:

  • all new updated baseboards (wider and more modern)
  • updated new updated window casings (wider and more modern)
  • all new interior doors (and hardware)
  • all new interior closet doors (and hardware)

Why do I use the word ‘extras’?  I consider it an ‘extra’ as all of the above was not on our original renovation plan.  We happened to get an extremely great deal on the baseboards, casings, and doors that we couldn’t pass up.  By adding this, we also added in extra paint and labour to paint these all.

navigation your renovation budget

Navigating A Renovation Budget


With my own renovation project, there were compromises I needed to make.  Going back to my mantra: This is not my forever home, I need to decide on what I could live with.  I know….big world problems here aren’t they?  Nevertheless, there were compromises I did make.

Compromise #1

I think the biggest compromise I made was not getting rid of our popcorn ceilings.  While some of you may think, “Oh my gosh – why didn’t they just do it?”  Here are my reasons:

  1. If we scraped the popcorn off the ceilings, the entire house was going to have to get done.  I wasn’t going to do a half-ass job and just do the main floor.  That would be silly (and quite honestly, look stupid with our floorplan). Either do it all or nothing – and we chose nothing.  If we would have done the ceilings it would have added more time to the timeline as well as more funds.
  2. If we scraped the popcorn off the ceilings, we were going to add in potlights throughout our main floor as well as pendant lighting over the island.  When the quote came in to do all of that, I was not willing to compromise getting hardwood in our bedrooms.
  3. If we scraped the popcorn off the ceilings AND got potlights, it would be way easier to just remove the ceiling all together and install new drywall and have the seams mudded and taped for a flat ceiling (right now, our ceiling has be mudded and taped for a popcorn ceiling so it’s not perfect.  Popcorn can hide a shit-load of imperfections).  Again, when the quote came in to do this (electrical, drywall, new lights and labour), I was not willing to compromise on anything else I chose for our renovation.

As you can see, simply saying we’re removing the popcorn involves a real domino effect and I was not willing to increase my renovation budget or timeline.

Compromise #2

Even though this is not our forever home, we chose to ignore our bathrooms (for now).  Both our master and our main bathroom did get new toilets and a fresh new coat of paint (with a new colour), but that’s all.  I’m not saying they are never going to get done, they were just not part of this renovation project.  If we wanted to put our home up for sale tomorrow, they would quickly get done.  However, we are guessing we have about 5-8 more years in this home before we are empty nesters so they will get done in a couple of years and/or before we ever list our home.

The compromise of ‘ignoring’ is not an easy one.  Believe you me! We have this great renovation yet 2 spaces look like our old house.  However, the reality of it is we were not going to spend the money we didn’t have on this.  Plain and simple.

Navigating A Renovation Budget

Contingency Fund

When my hubby and I were putting together the budget he kept on asking me why we needed one.  His thought was that if everything was well planned out, you shouldn’t need one. Here is why I suggest having one:

  1. When work starts, there may be things you wish to ‘add on’.  For example, if the electrician is already working, there may be additional things you would like him/her to do.  And yes, that happened with ours.  I had an additional outlet added to our foyer/front entrance and had one outlet added to our outside entrance  so that I could add some twinkle lights.
  2. There are always surprises that will arise.  If you are opening up walls, heaven knows what is behind them.  For our own situation, when we took our our corner pantry in our kitchen we knew there was a stack that we would have to build around.  What we didn’t know (and was not on our original house plan) was plumbing in the wall we needed to take out.  Result?  Our plumber had to move them.  What did that mean?  More money to move that plumbing.
  3. We had the Nest installed in our home to make it more efficient (my painter called it the eyeball on the wall).  The hookup of the Nest is supposed to take 5 minutes.  I’m sure it would if the wiring was proper.  We didn’t have enough wires coming from our furnace so guess what?  Electrician had to bring the wires up.  Added cost.  In addition, our Nest still wasn’t working properly so we had to call the furnace guy to come look at it.  Result?  A house call from our furnace guy with an additional cost for him to come out.  Cha ching, cha ching, cha ching.

navigation your renovation budget

You see….it can quickly add up!


When people think of renovating, they often do not consider a little decorating budget.  It’s hard to renovate a space and expect all of your ‘old’ to look good in the new space.  I have yet to see it happen.  In setting up a budget, it should look like this:


For my own project, we purchased brand new bedroom furniture as well as some front entrance foyer furniture.  On the list to get in the future will be main floor furniture to work better with our new look.  Although what we have is ok, it’s just ok and not that ‘WOW’ that I’d like to have.  I’ve already speced out 6 new chairs, lamps, area rug and tables and am now saving for those purchases.

We still also have a lot of decorating to do throughout our home however we are taking our time to find the ‘just right’ pieces.

Navigating A Renovation Budget

End Result

Ask my hubby and he’ll say I went over the budget (twice).  I call bull-shit on that one.  Ask me, and I’ll tell you I went over the budget a little.  I set a renovation budget and then a decorating budget.  For the renovation part, we spent just a little over $35,000 for our entire home (except the 2 bathrooms).  I think I did very well in pricing out supplies, I researched items and made compromises where I needed to.  We also added in extras that were not originally in our scope.  So there! 🙂

For the decorating budget, I’d like to say I didn’t go over the budget (because I didn’t have one).  After being married for 23 years this month, I bought what I wanted for our master bedroom.  Yes, I looked at the price and knew how much it cost, but I honestly didn’t care.  I was price conscious, yet at the same time knew exactly the look I was going for.  The same holds true for the custom lamps I had colour-matched to the toss cushions.  They were not cheap but they were needed for the space.  I knew I wanted to create a space where I would love entering, every single time.

navigation your renovation budget

For the front foyer/entrance, I purchase a side table, a lamp, and an area rug.  That’s all.  I didn’t go to the most expensive store and I shopped and shopped to find what I was looking for while being very conscious of the total.  I’m an extremely savvy shopper and there wasn’t one piece of furniture that I bought that I did not get a great deal (or discount on).  Definitely a pro of getting designer discounts (in which I share with my clients)!

navigation your renovation budget

With the furniture added in, our entire project comes in around $40,000.  When you look back at our home, I believe we did extremely well with our budget.  I mean, I’ve seen kitchens come in at well over $60,000+.  Although we did the majority of the work, we also saved a ton of money by doing all of the work!   In the end, I can truly say that I love my home, I love our investment that we made in our home, and one day I hope that investment will pay off!

Sheri Bruneau Get It Together

Are you starting a renovation project or thinking of starting one?  Download your FREE Printable guide here! 


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