Tag Archives: renovation


Planning a renovation?

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Planning a renovation?

Like thousands of people in the GTA every year, I just had a major renovation completed on my home. It was a great way to make sure that my home meets the changing needs of my family and also updating features and designs to meet our current tastes. In doing so, I experienced first hand the benefits of using a professional renovation contractor and of practising what the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and its RenoMark renovators recommend to all their clients.

By following our own recommendations, I didn’t experience any nightmare scenarios that unfortunately are more common than anyone would like. And the end result was fabulous, the project was finished on time and on budget, and while most renovations often have some bumps in the road the process went relatively smoothly.


1. Spend the time upfront to have a very clear picture of what you want to achieve. Understand your budget and have a list of must-haves and nice-tohaves. Chances are as you proceed with your renovation you will likely have to make some trade-offs between what you want and what you can afford.

2. Choose your renovator contractor carefully. Interview at least three. If you don’t know where to start, you can find a list of RenoMark renovators on the RenoMark.ca website with renovators in your city from coast to coast. The benefit of using a RenoMark member is that they are professionals, they carry all the applicable licenses and insurance coverages (including WSIB), they will always provide a written contract, provide a two-year warranty on their work and continually upgrade their skills with ongoing education provided by the local home builder’s associations (HBA).

3. When interviewing your renovation contractor, make sure they understand your vision for the renovation and are able to work with you to fine-tune your project. Ask for references of previous clients and check them! Don’t just be satisfied with pretty pictures and a snazzy brochure. If they are not a RenoMark renovator, ask them to provide evidence of insurance and workers compensation coverage, ask about their warranty coverage and ask if they are members of the local HBA. Insurance and WSIB is important because if the renovator does not have coverage, you as the homeowner could be liable in the event of an accident on the job site.

4. Make sure you have a robust written contract with the renovator. This will make sure you get the renovation you want and protects you in the event something goes wrong. Check our website at renomark.ca for tips that outline some of the most common features you will want to make sure are included in a contract.

5. As the renovation progresses, make sure to stay in regular contact with your contractor. Book regular progress meetings. Changes are bound to occur with the project as you are working with an existing and sometimes older structure or home. When you do make changes, be sure to document them with your contractor in a change order.

My overall experience was a very positive one. I worked with a professional and was very happy with the end results. Remember, you wouldn’t hire someone off the street to repair your car; you would go to a licensed mechanic. Why would you risk the biggest investment of your life, your home, to a non-professional just to save a few dollars?

Dave Wilkes is president and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), and can be found on:




and BILD’s official online blog: BILDBlogs.ca


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Now is the time to start planning this year’s renovation

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Now is the time to start planning this year’s renovation

You meant to redo your kitchen and finish your basement last summer, but the warm days came and went and your renovation project remained only an idea. Not to worry, because now is the perfect time to start planning to make your renovation a reality this summer.

With a generous lead time, you can afford to be thorough with every step in the renovation process, increasing your chances of success. The first step is to articulate what goals you want to achieve with your renovation, and develop a clear description of what you want to change. Write down your priorities and items that would be nice to have if your budget allows. Make sure everyone in your home participates in the discussion so you have a complete picture of what is needed.

Photography: bigstock.com
Photography: bigstock.com

Research a reputable renovator

Next, find a professional renovator who will guide you through the process. The good ones get booked up months in advance. You will be putting a lot of trust in this person, so look for a renovator who is a member of BILD’s RenoMark program, which means that they have committed to the RenoMark code of conduct and BILD’s code of ethics. To find a RenoMark renovator, visit renomark.ca.

Price is an important consideration when choosing a renovator, but experience, construction schedule and references are just as crucial. Take the time to check three references to get a good understanding of how the company operates.

Plans & permits

Once you have selected your professional renovator, he or she may bring in a designer or architect, and together you will work through your project outline and create plans and specifications. These will help determine the budget estimate and any building permits and approvals you will need. In some municipalities, obtaining building permits and approvals can take many weeks and even months – another reason it’s good to start the process early.

When you are comfortable with the preliminary design, budget, and timetable, you’re ready to draw up a written contract with your renovator. The contract sets out the precise scope of the work, the price, a schedule of payments, a reasonable timetable for completing the work, product-specific details and a warranty clause. The contract should be reviewed by a lawyer.

Get it in writing

A RenoMark renovator will provide a contract for all projects. Avoid renovators who offer to work without a contract, even if they promise to skip the HST or offer another incentive. They may not be paying workers’ compensation or carry adequate insurance, leaving you at financial risk.

My final piece of advice is to spend some time on RenoMark.ca and read the articles in our Ask a Renovator series – they cover various aspects of renovation in more detail.

Renovating your home is exciting and rewarding. And as you can see, there’s plenty you can do now to prepare for this year’s renovation. By starting early, you will have your renovator team selected, contract signed, and permits and approvals in place by the time renovation season returns.

David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.

For the latest industry news and new home data, follow BILD on Twitter, Facebook, BILD’s official blog, and bildgta.ca.


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Restoring a Heritage Home

Restoring a heritage home – old, yes, but not forgotten

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Restoring a heritage home – old, yes, but not forgotten

Transforming a heritage home into a real estate jewel through a renovation or restoration is a labour of love – it requires a commitment to architectural character and a willingness to meet the challenge of unexpected surprises along the way. If your client has hired you to preserve the look, but update certain areas, the following are five broad categories that you’ll want to investigate.


Age, general architectural style and condition

Learn as much as you can about the history of the building. The historical society can be a good resource. Also, check archives for any old permits, drawings, photos, or newspaper articles about former owners. Learning about the lives of the people who built and lived in the house can help with restoration decisions. Many styles of architecture have played a role in our history, from Queen Anne, Victorian to Colonial Revival. Occasionally, you might also find a true Arts and Crafts style home too. It’s worth documenting the details of the home and checking books at your local library (or on the Internet) to determine its exact style. By learning the age of the home, who its former occupants were and its architectural style, you’ll be able to more easily piece together the “historic” puzzle for your client.


Structure, electrical, plumbing, heating-cooling and drainage

As far as condition goes, it’s worth investing in the services of a home inspector who is knowledgeable about historic architecture. He or she will be able to create a report that identifies potential problem areas and suggest viable, cost-effective solutions.

Problems with infrastructure can range from knob and tube wiring to clay pipes in plumbing. Foundations can be problematic as well, as old concrete can settle and crack, causing the building to shift; a pencil or a marble placed on the floor may well provide you with a heads-up. Any horizontal cracks in the concrete indicate severe settling and could mean costly repairs. If you suspect any underlying issues with the structure, it’s best to have it inspected by a structural engineer.

Envelope, roof, insulation, walls, windows and doors

Before changing any of the elements that make up the envelope of the building, ensure that replacements or repairs will maintain the architectural character.

Windows and doors on old homes can be problematic due to rotten wood and energy inefficiency. Luckily, most historical boards recognize this and let owners replace them with more modern choices as long as the general character is the same. However, if you are fortunate enough to have windows with stained or art glass, consider hiring an expert to restore them.

Many older homes were originally insulated with horsehair or newspaper. Newer homes, but older than 1990 may also have vermiculite insulation which likely contains asbestos. In most cases, an investment is needed to remove the old insulation and properly insulate the walls, the attic and the roof. Energy rebates may be available for this.

Interior furniture, fixtures, materials and decorative trim

The interior design of a heritage property can be very detailed, and it’s important to decide which characteristics contribute to the value of the home. Ceiling details and interior trim — such as door stiles and rails, wainscoting and any decorative motifs — can be extremely valuable and worth preserving or restoring to its original state. Wallpaper patterns can be replicated and heritage paint colours are available.

Door and window hardware is often bronze, copper or crystal. Sometimes missing fixtures or ornate lighting can be found in architectural salvage stores.

The fireplace was the focus of many older homes. Oftentimes, mantel and hearth details were spectacular and included carved wood or marble. Make sure the home inspector is a bit of a detective as well and removes bits of paint in inconspicuous areas to see if you own a hidden treasure.

Landscaping, hardscape, plantings and style

The landscaping of a historic property can’t be overlooked. Many of our forebears brought their gardening skills with them from England, Italy and France, where gardens were outdoor living spaces. While it may be difficult to determine from an initial observation of what a garden may have once looked like, old photos can provide valuable clues.

Scent gardens, formal seating areas tucked into the shrubbery, and decorative ironwork gateways that framed views of other landscape elements. Gardens can give a heritage property context and take a historic home from stunning to truly spectacular.

SAMANTHA SANNELLA, BFA ID, M ARCH, is a designer, educator and principal at Urban Retreat Homes.

She is an expert in the field of design and construction and is a columnist for several HOMES Publishing Group publications.


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AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Constructive Construction

AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Constructive Construction

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AT HOME WITH MEN AT WORK: Constructive Construction

by Craig Essery
Photography: Bigstock.com

Steps you can take to speed up your home reno project

Remodelling is always a big undertaking. Whether you’re redoing a single room or embarking on a full-home addition project, understanding the renovation process ahead of you and doing your part to prepare for any foreseeable obstacles is sure to save you time and headaches—many headaches.


Arguably, the most important stage in the reno process is the planning phase. As a homeowner ready to commit to renovating, it’s crucial that you have a clear vision of what you want to get out of your renovation, and that you do your research before hiring a contractor. Start with making a list of what it is that bothers you about your current home; take your time with this and really consider what you want to achieve from the renovation. Do you need more space? Do you want an open-concept layout? Do you need to plan for a growing family? Decide what features are, and are not, negotiable. Next, do your research before hiring anyone. You want to understand the process that’s ahead of you, and handpick the best company for the job based on what’s required for your home. Remember that experience brings efficiency, so it’s important to find a contractor who has plenty of experience working in your neighbourhood with your type of house. For projects requiring substantial design and project coordination, consider hiring a Design-Build company to service the job from start to finish. Design-Build companies tend to have all the trades and services you will need either vetted or in-house, making the process more efficient.


Although it may seem like a given to have your finances fully in order before signing with your contractor, it’s more common than you’d expect for projects to come to a complete halt, after construction has already begun, due to a lack of finances. Being transparent and clear with your contractor and design partners, in terms of what your main objectives are, and what you’re willing to invest in order to achieve them, is extremely important. Transparency will give your contractor the information they need to ensure that your expectations are realistic for your budget.


Relocating your living quarters, be it to an entirely new location or just a different part of your house, is inevitable during a renovation. Talk with your contractor to determine the best plan of action and work together to make the best of that decision. If you decide to fully move out during construction, push the contractor to shorten the timeline slightly; if you decide to relocate to a different part of the house, determine where the best area is that won’t cause delays and jeopardize the project schedule.


Contractors provide homeowners with a project schedule prior to beginning any work on the home. After the design phase has been completed, your contractor will generally provide you with an updated schedule for the upcoming construction phase; however, any changes that are made after exiting the design phase will result in increased costs and an extension in the project timeline. Avoid mid-project changes and don’t exit the conceptual design phase until you’re 100 per cent sure you’re happy with the plans.


Aside from cost, the main hesitation people have for remodelling their home is time. They envision themselves being victim to uncomfortable living conditions for months, or years, on end; and, while living conditions during a major reno varies from project to project, homeowners are right to be concerned about the lengthy period of time they’ll be subjected to these conditions. It almost always takes longer than expected to complete a renovation, so that’s why thorough planning and having realistic expectations will help mitigate the delays and frustrations that are bound to happen along the way. Depending on the size of the renovation, a typical home in Toronto will take a full year to complete from conceptual design to move in; and if it requires attention from the Committee of Adjustments, add another three to six months.

Specializing in home additions and major home renovations in old-Toronto neighbourhoods, Men At Work Design Build provides integrated engineering, design and professional construction services to help solve home space problems for Toronto families.

Craig Essery is a Renovation Consultant at the award-winning, two-time winner of the BILD Renovator of the Year award, 2012 & 2017, design-build firm.


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Getting Started with Home Renovation

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Getting Started with Home Renovation

Taking on your very first home renovation projects? Congratulations! This is going to be an exciting phase in your life as a homeowner. Whether you’re making a small upgrade to the powder room, or diving into a major reno in multiple rooms, here are 5 important things to consider before you get started.


This is going to be the most important part of ensuring that you have a positive renovation experience. We’re not talking about communicating with your contractor (although that is also very important). This is about maintaining open lines of communication with your significant other, business partner, family member, or whomever you might be taking on this project with.

Things like your vision for the space, budgets, details, and frustrations over unforeseen repairs, etc. can all cause disagreements. That’s why it’s essential that you talk things out upfront and throughout the project.

Planning & Research

Beginning your project with thorough research and a good plan is right up there with communication in terms of importance. While not everyone can fully visualize the outcome of their project, you can still prioritize and get a feel for the process of taking on a renovation.

Spend a lot of time visiting home shows and showrooms, browsing magazines and finding inspiration on sites like Pinterest. Look for design elements that delight you and take note of finishes and styles that you think would fit in with the look of your home as well as your lifestyle.


Home renovations always cost more than you initially think they will. Side projects happen unexpectedly, you end up needing more materials than you had estimated, or you just can’t live without that gorgeous tile you saw online the other day.

When planning out your budget (making a project budget really is a must do) add to extra fields: contingencies and splurges. Allot some extra funds to each line item. This will help you be better prepared when the price tag starts to creep upward.

Estimates are exactly that. They vary from project to project and differ depending on where you live within the country, province, or even within the city. That’s one of the reasons why you can see complete gut job renos on those home improvement shows that come in at a fraction of the price you might find locally.

Project Duration and Deadlines

Speaking of timelines … home renovation projects almost always take longer than you’d imagined they would. The best thing you can do is to plan for a flexible timeline. Projects can start later than you’d expected, and they can take longer than your contractor had initially estimated. This is why it’s never a good idea to plan a reno right before a holiday or major event, such as a wedding or the birth of a child. Make sure you have a sizeable chunk of time between your estimated completion date and the event.

DIY or Hire a Contractor

Many renovation projects will require you to hire a professional. Sometimes, even if you are relatively skilled at certain home improvement tasks bringing a professional in to do the job is the best decision. Here’s why. While you might have the ability to do a passable job, home renovation isn’t your fulltime job. That means you won’t have time to dedicate the major portion of your day to the work. Things will take longer, partially due to time constraints and partially due to lack of experience.

Bottom line: Unless you have extensive home renovation experience, the best choice is usually to hire professional.

Ready to find a contractor?

Take the next step and connect with local contractors in your area. You’ll find extensive listings here on eieihome.com for everything from general contractors to plumbers, landscapers, interior designers and much more. Our listing will allow you to read reviews, view galleries of past projects, and read informative articles based on contractor interviews. This really let’s you get to know each contractor to see if they’ll be the right fit for your project.

Once you’ve browsed the reviews, contact at least three contenders. Request quotes and additional information and then choose the best candidate.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome


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Design Lesson: Empty Nest Makeover

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Design Lesson: Empty Nest Makeover

Transforming a main floor into an entertainer’s delight

By Sarah St.Amand Photography By Mike Chajecki

Two busy professionals plus one empty nest in need of a main-floor renovation equals one daunting task—too daunting to go it alone—the couple hired my design firm to eliminate the stress of a massive main floor renovation.


The couple whose home is featured on these pages realized, early on, that interior design wasn’t their forte, so they called in on the team at Sarah St. Amand Interior Design. They chose to rely on our expertise when it came to transforming their kitchen and main floor area into a re-imagined, fresh space. They took that leap of faith—sometimes difficult for many clients— and trusted in the design process, while providing a suitable budget to ensure a cutting-edge renovation.


First, we listened closely to the homeowners’ priorities involving the kitchen renovation.

When we draft a plan for a new kitchen, we always ask our clients to visualize how they see themselves using their space. Do you bake? Do you love to cook? Entertain a lot? Need a beverage fridge? Do you compost? These are just some of the questions we need answered before we decide on the functionality of our design plan.


We also give close consideration to where our clients see themselves storing and accessing their plates, cutlery, glasses and even appliances. That’s how we select new kitchen cabinets and have them made accordingly, with an eye to varying the cabinet colours so there is more than one colour of cabinet included in the design.

Choose your lighting fixtures prior to the electrician placing the junction boxes. This will allow for the position over the island to be placed in the exact location.

Consider the sheet size for a decorative mosaic accent tile behind your stove. Mosaics are typically 12”x12” sheet sizes, so you can eliminate the number of cuts for your tile layer (who will thank you!).


The owners of this featured home told us they love to cook and entertain. So, we started with a careful plan for the kitchen to provide plenty of workspace and ample seating. This open-concept design allows for a family-friendly atmosphere where the TV can be seen from the kitchen island. The island is complemented by custom counter stools in easy-wipe, faux leather.

Select your countertop, as there are countless sizes available. That way, the island can be designed according to the slab size to eliminate seams. Sometimes an oversize slab is needed if your island is large.


A timeless palette with a robust repetition of patterns in the overarching design was applied, and we used the new, brushed gold metal as accents— in both the lighting and hardware.

We installed a Wolf range and a quartz countertop, creating a generous cooking space on a strong, durable maintenance-free surface. We added a variety of light sources to the home, including pot lights, incandescent lighting in the chandelier and pendants, under-cabinet lighting and allowed plenty of natural light to filter in from the windows.


A neutral wall colour was selected so the cabinets and the details stand out—much like a little black dress with fantastic jewellery! We kept the core neutral and let the cabinets, lighting and fabrics be the main focus. Mullion details in the entertainment cabinet offer a subtle touch, while still allowing accessories to be displayed in behind.

To keep costs down, opt for an inexpensive subway tile for the backsplash (in this case, we used a soft grey hue) and accent the range with a higher end tile—only a minimal amount is needed.


Some finishing details, including drapery panels, flank the patio door. Sheer panels (not what your grandmother’s polyester ones looked like) were used, as these beautiful fabrics offer light-filtering capabilities, while the non-functioning side panels add visual weight and texture on the window edges.

Roman blinds were positioned in a pattern that mimics the metal details on the light fixtures, echoing the repetition and pattern in the overall design.

Choose appliances prior to your kitchen renovation so your designer can position the cabinets according to the appliance specifications.


A custom sectional to suit the family room and a comfy reading chair were selected, along with a variety of textures in the fabrics. A neutral monochromatic palette is our signature, as it is timeless.


Sometimes, the bigger the house doesn’t always mean the most thorough of renovations. With larger homes it’s harder to manage budgets in order to complete all the decor aspects. This house was featured as it’s a perfect size, and all the design facets of the main floor of this home were completed as planned.

The renovation went smoothly and our clients were so delighted with their brand new decor in the home they love.

Sarah St. Amand Interior Design Inc. www.stamanddesign.com follow me on Instagram: sarahst.amandinteriordesign and Pinterest View my portfolio on HOUZZ and view featured articles www.houzz.com


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Designer Touch: Cooking With Character

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Designer Touch: Cooking With Character

By Rebecca Hay • Photography By Stephani Buchman

A blend of traditional, contemporary and vintage touches, create a personality-packed kitchen

Nothing beats a good kitchen renovation. Especially one that transforms the way you use your home. This personality packed kitchen makes a statement and yet provides much needed functionality for a young family.

When we were approached to renovate and design the main floor of this Riverdale family home in Toronto’s East end, the couple was pregnant with their second child. This resulted in a tight timeline to make a major transformation. The family had lived in the home for three years before they decided to make some big changes, and knew exactly what they wanted as a result. A growing young family, with no plans to move in the near future, they needed an updated space and an open-concept kitchen for cooking and entertaining.


The home is a semi-detached Victorian with great historic features and good bones. Its ’90s-style kitchen had crumbling maple cabinets, terracota floors and oodles of wasted space. It even featured a terracotta-tiled countertop! The busy couple wanted a more functional, open-concept kitchen, suitable for raising their children and entertaining friends. Space planning was key to creating a functional layout. By tearing down the wall between the kitchen and dining area, we were able to create the large open space that the family desired. After assessing all our layout options, we decided on a peninsula versus an island. This created a U-shaped kitchen where the cook of the family (in this case, the husband) could slave away without interference by dinner guests… or little feet!


The current pantry was previously a lonely, empty wall with nothing but a small table leaning up against it and a pile of shoes. During construction we discovered there was space between the exterior wall and interior framing, so we moved some ductwork and gained almost a foot of extra space. This allowed us to make the kitchen bigger and provided space for the custom pantry with lots of storage. The full-height cabinets house a broom closet, pull-out shelves, cupboards for small appliances, and a nook for coats and shoes. Since the family has laneway parking and generally enters the house through the back door, the mini-mudroom was a must.


In addition to being extremely functional, we wanted the space to make a statement, while still being consistent with the character of the home. We chose a mix of traditional and contemporary elements, vintage touches and pops of colour to create an inviting and unique space. The rich blue cabinetry adds colour and depth, while the mosaic marble backsplash adds luxurious texture and interest. It also hides any water splatters or mess. The marble ties in seamlessly with the sleek white quartz countertops and Silgranit white sink. Hits of yellow and brass establish the fun and polished esthetic.

Vintage details help this new kitchen blend effortlessly into its surroundings. The school housestyle pendants and handmade wood shelves add an old-world feel. While the detailing on the walnut stools also has a trendy yet timeless appeal. The shelves and bench were handmade by the homeowner’s mother, and are a perfect personal touch.


Pops of yellow make a bold statement against the blue cabinets. The Roman shade adds colour and texture, and complements the custom yellow leather stools. A lot of time was spent searching for the perfect counter stools. The original design had wooden stools that we ordered and ended up returning because they didn’t make the right statement. Sometimes you have to be fluid with design and recognize when something just isn’t quite right. When we couldn’t find the perfect stool, I decided to design a custom one. They ended up being the showstoppers and the proverbial icing on the cake. The stools tie all the design elements together.

The end result is a personality-packed kitchen full of all the modern amenities and conveniences of modern family life.


DESIGN, Rebecca Hay Designs, rebeccahaydesigns.com CONTRACTING, TriMatrix Construction WALL PAINT Benjamin Moore 2125-60 Marilyn’s Dress CABINETRY PAINT, HC-155 Newburyport Blue & CC-40 Cloud White COUNTERTOPS, Caesarstone Canada BACKSPLASH TILES, Marble Granite Depot REFRIGERATOR, Oven, Range, Jenn-Air DISHWASHER, Whirlpool FAUCET, Delta STOOL FABRIC, Designer Fabrics CUSTOM STOOLS, Rebecca Hay Designs ROMAN SHADE, Tonic Living PENDANT LIGHTS, The Door Store CABINETRY HARDWARE, Upper Canada Specialty Hardware

Designer Rebecca Hay, Principal Designer of Rebecca Hay Designs Inc., is a Toronto-based boutique design firm offering complete design & renovation services for residential, commercial and vacation properties for over a decade. Known and celebrated for her design work and appearances on various acclaimed HGTV shows, Rebecca and her team design classic, livable spaces that reflect the homeowner’s personality. Servicing clientele throughout Toronto, the GTA and Canada. rebeccahaydesigns.com


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Kitchen Planner

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Kitchen Planner

The faucet and sink are the focal point in the hardest working room in any home

The kitchen is the hub of any home, and the sink and faucet are probably the hardest working components in any kitchen. By focusing on those two interrelated components you can generate a lot of business working with clients ranging from budget-conscious, small-space dwellers, to affluent homeowners looking to create the luxurious kitchen of their dreams.

Tight spaces and tight budgets

Many homeowners are looking for a low-budget spruce up, either to refresh a dated but otherwise functional look, or to maximize resale value when putting their home on the market. A new sink and faucet is an affordable upgrade that doesn’t require any structural changes.


The reality for many is that condos have become the de facto “starter home.” Condo-sized kitchens required condo-sized thinking. The Prolific sink was designed with small spaces specifically in mind. The 33” x 17¾” basin comes with five accessories, including a bamboo cutting board and a dishwasher-safe colander, all of which you can store right in the sink basin when not in use.

Expansive upgrades

If space isn’t an issue, clients will appreciate a large double-basin sink that makes washing and rinsing easy. Kohler’s Whitehaven under-mount sink has a classic farmhouse style apron front that overlaps existing cabinetry. The 24”- to 36”-wide sinks have large- and medium-sized basins, separated by a low divider. Each is available in 16 different colours, from white to “Black Black,” and the durable enamelled cast-iron finish will last the lifetime of the kitchen.


Other upgrades clients might want to consider include a counter- or wall-mounted pot-filler faucet by the stove, a filtered-water faucet for drinking, and built-in soap dispensers that match the look of the faucet they’ve chosen.

Regardless of kitchen size, homeowners have a plethora of options to choose from. Sinks are available in enamelled cast-iron, stainless steel, and even composite materials, such as the Cairn, made of Kohler Neoroc. For faucets and other fixtures, the range of options expands to include brushed nickel and bronze.

Logistical planning

Large or small, you’ll want to plan the kitchen to maximize space while minimizing wasted effort. Designers often refer to the “work triangle” layout when planning kitchens, with the refrigerator, cooktop, and sink at the three points of the triangle. There are a few “rules” that come with this concept, including that no object – such as a cabinet – should block movement between the three points, household traffic should not flow through the triangle, and no point should be more than nine feet from any other.


With open-concept designs, owners often picture having their sink – or a secondary one – built into an island. This typically means running additional water and drainage lines. Before committing to a particular design, you’ll want to make sure there’s space to run the lines through the joists, and that you have sufficient slope to the stack to ensure proper drainage.

Visual cues

Even with 3D animations, many clients often find it difficult to visualize how all the components of a project will come together in their renovated space. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but actually being able to see and touch the fixtures before installation can save a lifetime of disappointment with an errant purchase.

Earlier this year, the first Canadian KOHLER Signature Store opened in Vancouver. The 5,000-sq.ft. space features dozens of different kitchen and bath displays and a wall-mounted display of faucets, with many of the fixtures fully functioning. It’s open to the public seven days a week, so you can send your clients to see their options firsthand, at their convenience, prior to making their final decision. (For more information on the KOHLER Signature Store, see the June/July 2017 issue of Renovation Contractor.) Elsewhere, the company has also partnered with dozens of specialty retailers across the country that have Kohler-focussed displays.

If you can’t make it to a Kohler showroom display, contractors and clients alike will appreciate the online Kitchen Planner. Start by perusing one of the many ready made designs, ranging from traditional to eclectic, then create your own custom space by choosing from various sink, faucet, countertop, cabinetry, and wall colour options.

Big budget or small, Kohler’s range of kitchen sinks and fixtures can help you fulfill any client’s needs.


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Decor Expert: Kimberley’s Guide To Lighting Power & Safety

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Decor Expert: Kimberley’s Guide To Lighting Power & Safety

Electrical considerations are an important part of any renovation but particularly in those rooms where power and water mix, like bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. If you’ve been dreaming of renovating one of these important spaces, then planning ahead is your most cost-effective resource.


Putting plans, elevations and reflected ceiling plans (so you’ll know where the light fixtures are going before your electrician asks) on paper allows you to thoughtfully consider all of the details you’ll want to get right. Floor plans provide guidance when it comes to placing outlets. If you know you have a favourite reading chair, you’ll want to make sure there is a plug nearby for your lamp.

Most homeowners prepare floor plans but fail to prepare elevations, which highlight what’s happening on walls. An elevation will show you where you want a light switch (as you enter the room) and where you don’t; in the exact spot a painting would look great. It will also help you place outlets along a kitchen countertop or near the ironing board. Remember to consider the colour of the wall outlets are appearing on. With a dark backsplash, for instance, you’ll want to choose dark (matching) outlet and switch covers. That way, the outlets won’t distract from the pretty tile you chose.


Dynamic lighting can enhance any room. Consider nighttime use as well as daytime use for kitchens and bathrooms. Low ambient, motion-sensored light options, potentially at baseboard level, can gently light the way if you need to get up in the middle of the night. Your morning coffee will taste a whole lot better when you have softly dimmed kitchen lights vs. harsh overhead pot lights. Create layered lighting options, like task lighting for eyebrow maintenance in the bathroom, clothes folding in the laundry room, or food prep in the kitchen. Choosing the wrong kind of lighting or not installing it correctly can pose a safety risk.


Pamper your feet with in-floor heating. Ensure the placement of your wall thermostat is practical without impeding your design. It has to be at least one metre from a bathtub or shower stall, or be GFCI-protected if within one metre. Manufacturers’ installation requirements vary, so hire a licensed electrical contractor who will ensure a permit is taken out.

Making electrical an afterthought when thinking about your dream renovation can be costly and dangerous. The benefit of hiring the right professionals—an interior designer, licensed and insured contractor and a licensed electrical contractor—means you’ll not only love your gorgeous new space, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing your family is safe. To find out if your electrician is a licensed electrical contractor, check out poweryourreno.ca

Kimberley Seldon


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January 2017 eNewsletter

Managing change during your home renovation

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Managing change during your home renovation

Managing change is an important skill to learn when taking on a home renovation project. With so many websites, magazines and TV shows filled with images of gorgeous homes, it can be easy to find yourself suddenly dizzied by inspiration.

Whether you are inspired by a daring paint colour, a stylish room design, or an incredible open-concept transformation, it’s important that you try not to let impulsive inspiration take control of your projects. Taking on too many projects at once, or making several last-minute design or finish changes can result in incomplete projects and also muddy the vision you have for your home. While whim-based project alterations can over inflate your budget, they can also lead to conflicts with other people involved with the project.

Here are a few ways that managing changes during your next home renovation can be made easier.

Consider your priorities

If the change will radically alter the direction of an in-progress remodel/redesign or if it will halt an existing project, take a moment to prioritize before you act. Confer with anyone else who may have a stake in your remodeling project and think about why you want to make this change.

Definitely look into the monetary impact of any change you would like to make. Will new products need to be ordered? Will any products you’ve already purchased go to waste? Are there any permits that will need to be acquired?

With all of these things in mind, you will need to decide where your priorities lie and if finishing on-budget and on-time is more or less important than making this change.

Think about the future

Sometimes, spending extra money to make a change during a renovation can actually end up saving you money in the future. For example, installing under-floor heating during your bathroom renovation will spare you the expense of having to rip out your flooring if you decide to have it installed a few years down the line. While similarly, opting for granite countertops over laminate could mean that you won’t need to redo your kitchen in a few years, after realizing that you really did prefer the higher end material.

Create a file dedicated to the inspiration

The goal should be to use your inspiration strategically and not impulsively. If you saw something on a home improvement show that you absolutely “must try” in your home, journal it, look for similar projects online and file it away. Allow the idea to develop into a solid goal, rather than what could turn out to be a flight of fancy.

Work with qualified professionals

When you work with an experienced professional contractor or design and build specialist, they can be a source of expert advice. Talk to them and tell them about your ideas. Your contractor can help you recognize the impact making your change will have on your project and help you make an educated decision.

Published Darla Grant-Braid

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome


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