Where to Spend Your Renovation Dollars

Where to Spend Your Renovation Dollars

A couple of days ago I was asked by some very dear friends to come and see a house they were considering purchasing.  I was thrilled that they wanted my opinion and if you know me, I was more than happy to share my opinion.  From this point forward, we’ll call them Jack and Jill.

Where to Spend Your Renovation Dollars

First of all, let me start off by saying that there is no cookie-cutter formula for where to spend your dollars.  It really does depend on the house and your situation.


Before I got into the kitchen, Jill had already warned me that she didn’t really like the distance between the island and the stove.  She thought it was pretty tight.  When I got into the kitchen I could clearly see that it was pretty tight (30″ total width).  Jack and Jill thought that an easy solution might be to move the island roughly one foot.  They were also talking about making the island a rectangle shape instead of the custom shape it currently is.

Where To Spend Your Renovation Dollars

After looking around and under the sink, moving the island and making it a bit smaller and a different shape was clearly an option.  But what I pointed out were all the possible things that they may not have thought of, like:

  • Moving the island about a foot will require you to patch the hardwood floor.
  • Reconfiguring the island will require  a new granite counter (or alternate counter).
  • This could also result in a new sink and new taps depending on the layout of the new island.
  • Moving the island may also cause the plumber to have to put a hole in the ceiling in the fully developed basement to move the plumbing the water system (that is a bonus feature of the home).
  • There is also an outlet in the island which would also need to be moved.

So you see,  simply moving an island by about 1 foot may seem simple however there are a number of other considerations that might have you using up a renovation contingency fund in no time!

Entrance – The Heart of the Home

When you walk into the entrance of this home, Jill mentioned that she felt like it was saying, “Hault.”  Even though they foyer is spacious, I too felt a little closed in – not that welcoming opening that some homes offer.  The wall going up the stairs – all the way to the top including a half wall is all drywalled.

Where To Spend Your Renovation Dollars

Jack and Jill were thinking of the possibility of removing the door to the basement (the door in the image above leads to the basement) and opening up a wall to open up the space to the back of the home.  It was discovered that was not going to work due to the location of the stairs leading upstairs as well as leading downstairs.  What could happen is that only part of the wall could be cut away leaving a half wall with a triangle opening.  Kind of like  a ‘peek-a-boo’ hole.   I told Jack and Jill that opening that up will most likely not give them what they were looking for.  They wanted an open feel to the back of the house and if they proceeded with that renovation, they were going to most likely be disappointed.

My suggestion to open up the entrance was totally different.  The wrought iron railings leading up to the second floor goes up but stops as a little section was left drywalled.  My suggestion was to remove that wall and replace it with the iron railing.  That would take a very large wall and open it up.  By doing that small renovation, it would drastically change the feel of this space.  Although it’s just a little wall, from the entrance is a very large wall that does close off this space.

Family Room

There were a few other areas in the home where I gave my advice including dealing with the family room.

Where To Spend Your Renovation Dollars

Between the kitchen eating area and the family room was a half wall.  It’s easy to say, let’s just remove that half wall however, in that half wall is an electrical outlet as well as the vacuflo.  So if the wall was removed, those two would need to be relocated and the floor would have to be patched.

Where to Spend Your Renovation Dollars

When I finished the tour with Jack and Jill their real estate agent asked me where I would spend my renovation dollars.  And before I tell you I do want you to understand that sometimes, there needs to be compromises and that you need to understand what kind of bang you’re going to get for your dollar.  I know this home is most likely not Jack and Jill’s forever home so when I gave my advice I was giving it knowing that it would be sold again.

Here’s what I said I would do:

  • Leave the island and learn to live with it.  There’s nothing wrong with the black granite and moving the island could potentially open a whole can of worms!
  • Paint the entire home.  As much as yellow is my favorite colour, yellow walls, blonde cabinets and a red/orange floors do not work.  The hardwood floors will be dictating a lot of the colour choices.  They are a fixed element that won’t be changing so we’ll have to work around that.
  • Paint the kitchen cabinets.  If you have wood flooring then, in my opinion, the cabinets need to relate.  In this house, the cabinets do not relate to the floor.  The blonde colour of the cabinets also dates the home.  Can you guess what colour I would paint them?
  • Leave the half wall between the eating area and family room (as the eating area is very spacious) but lower the mantle and install the TV above the mantle (as there is no other place for their TV to go).  Right now, the mantle is too high for a TV to be installed. Jack and Jill would like the family room to be the room where the TV is located.
  • In the entrance, remove the half wall and replace with the same railing to open up the space.
  • If money permits, replace the carpet in the basement.

Where To Spend Your Renovation Dollars

End Result

I’m not sure if my advice helped or hindered Jack and Jill. What I do know, as Jill said it to me, is that I gave a different perspective on the house.  While they went in knowing that the island was probably going to be moved, they came out with some new suggestions that might end up saving them some money.  And while yes, there are things in the house that are not great, overall it is a very lovely home that has such a great feel to it.  It is located on a quiet street in a fantastic community, it is evident that the neighbours have pride of ownership as their homes are well taken care of, and the home itself was clean.  All pluses in my book!

And just a little update:  I just heard from Jack and Jill  – they got the house!  I can’t wait to help them make it their own!

Sheri Bruneau Get It Together

When it comes to choosing the right colour or finished for your home, you just can not afford to make a mistake!  Send me an email to discuss your home.

One of the biggest investments one can make is the investment of a home and I believe you should LOVE coming home – every.single.day.

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