6 tips for avoiding renovation mistakes
Having experienced many renos, Scott McGillivray has seen a lot of mistakes made. Some are big, some are small, but they all have one thing in common: They don’t need to happen. Scott shares his list of the top home renovation mistakes and easy ways to avoid them.
1 Poor preparation
A proper renovation takes preparation – lots of it. A detailed plan will help keep you on budget and on time. Set out a very specific agreement with your contractor before the work begins and get everything in writing. You should be able to see on paper how your renovation is going to play out before it even begins.
2 Buying before planning
I can’t stress this enough: Don’t buy materials or appliances until your renovation is planned out and all measurements have been taken. Online sales can be tempting, but that great deal on a 24-inch dishwasher isn’t going to save you any money if you only have room for an 18-inch model.
3 Ignoring issues
When you tear down walls or rip up floors, there’s a good chance you’re going to find something you weren’t expecting, especially in an older home. Electrical and plumbing issues need to be dealt with before you close the walls back up. It might be an unexpected renovation cost up front, but it will save you tons of money in the long run.
4 Cutting corners
Don’t do it. Much like ignoring issues, cutting corners on materials or finishes is only going to cause you problems in the future. It’s always better to go the extra mile and do it right the first time than have to go back and redo everything. Hire competent people to do the job, buy quality materials and take the time to complete all the necessary steps.
5 Unlicensed trades
There are projects that any reliable contractor can take on; then there are specialized projects that require a licensed professional to complete. Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, asbestos removal and anything to do with gas or the structure of your home should always be completed by a licensed professional in that specific trade.
6 Too much DIY
I love ambitious homeowners who want to take part in their home renovations, but there comes a time when it’s best to hand the reins over to the professionals. Projects like cabinetry installation, complicated tile work and carpentry are beyond the scope of most homeowners and can reduce the value of your home if done incorrectly. My advice? Involve yourself in the demo – it’s the most fun part, anyway!
Cozy home office nook.
Creativity abounds in this cozy home office nook, which we've designed on both an entry-level and a CEO budget. Can you tell the difference?
1 Quartet cork wall tiles, 12" x 12". Staples, $13 (set of 4). 2 Powder-coated steel Bondis wall clock. IKEA, $30. 3 Umbra aluminum Lettro wall organizers. Urban Barn, $48. 4 Powder-coated steel swing-arm sconce in black. CB2, $90. 5 iMac 3.3GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 desktop computer with Retina 5k display, 27". Apple, $2,399. 6 KSP acrylic Ghost-style chair. Kitchen Stuff Plus, $125. 7 Painted particleboard Alex desk (top only) in white, $169. Painted fibreboard Linnmon tabletop in white, 2' x 4', $20. Lacquered bamboo Hilver desk legs, $20 each. All IKEA. 8 Kate Spade New York acrylic Strike Gold stapler. Indigo, $28. 9 White waste basket. Dollar Tree, $1. 10 Faux leather office bag in brown. Zara, $70. 11 Contemporary handspun wool Sync rug in Spring Rain, 6' x 8'. Weavers Art, $3,570.
1 Cork Tackboard harmony wall tiles with self-adhesive backing, 12" x 24". Jelinek Cork Group, $110 (set of 5). 2 Large stainless steel wall clock in black. Urban Mode, $113. 3 Powder-coated iron Revere wall organizers in silver. CB2, $30 each. 4 Powder-coated steel swing-arm sconce with brass details. Pavillion, $399. 5 Mac Pro 3.7GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon ES desktop computer with Dual DPU ($3,499) with Thunderbolt display, 27" ($1,199). All Apple. 6 Polycarbonate Belle Epoque chair in Crystal Clear. UpCountry, $295. 7 Painted fibreboard Emerson desk in white with ash legs. Structube, $529. 8 Stainless steel Akto stapler. Urban Mode, $87. 9 Design Ideas spoxy-coated steel spoke waste basket in white. Neat, $30. 10 Royal Republiq leather Telegraph bag in cognac. Te Koop, $240. 11 Signature handspun wool-blend Terrazzo rug in Stone & Tan, 6' x 8'. Weavers Art, $5,370.
At times, tidying an office space can feel like a near-impossible feat (we've all been there). But before that pile of paper is mistaken for a mini mountain, rest assured: help is on the way. From wall-hung storage bins to fancy glassware, these three organizing solutions will have you conquering clutter once and for all. 1 Welcome wall storage: Free up precious desk space by storing stray items in sightly wall-mountaed storage bins. Ideal for tight quarters, they come in a range of sleek style sand can easily house everything from keys and office supplies to mail and magazines. 2 Get creative with glass: The glass message board has quickly become the new whiteboard. Simply hang a float picture frame (available at craft supply stores) on your wall and write notes on the glass using an erasable marker. Insert a favourite photograph or, if you're feeling crafty, line the inside with patterned paper. 3 Repurpose pretty dishware: Corral oft-used items like pencils and push-pins in gorgeous glassware or petite ceramic bowls set on a modern serving tray. Think of it as styling a glamorous bar cart, minus the booze!
Step 1: Assemble the Alex desktop as per the manufacturer's instructions (you won't need the frame that's included). Set the desktop aside. Step 2: To make the desk 30" high (the standard height), use a handsaw to cut off 3" from the bottom of each Hilver leg. Screw the legs into the pre-drilled holes of the Linnmon tabletop. Step 3: Apply a latex-based adhesive to the top of the Linnmon tabletop and carefully set the Alex destop on top, ensuring it's centred. Clamp the surfaces together while the adhesive dries overnight.
Aesthetically pleasing and practical for small spaces, the mighty sconce prevails in the world of office lighting. On the hunt for a style that suits your budget? We promise you'll take a shine to one of these swing-arm designs. From the top: 1 Brushed stainless steel vintage. gusmodern.com, $600. 2 Powder-coated steel with brass details. pavilionmodern.com, $399. 3 Powder-coated steel Tribeca Warren 1 in brass. wayfair.com, $350 US. 4 Powder-coated steel in black. cb2.com, $90.
Forgo securing a bulletin board to your workspace wall and opt for this textured and versatile cork alternative. The secret to any well-decorated space is finding a balance between style and function. In the case of cork, don't restrict yourself to a pre-made bulletin board. Perfect for adorning a wall, cork tiles (sold in an array of sizes and textures) will lend you a warm, tactile element to your home office. Jazz up the look some more by reusing bejewelled brooches as push-pins.
Help keep your home clutter-free with these stylish organizing tools.
If clutter is closing in on you and you can’t seem to climb out from underneath it, the organizing mantra, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ can help. It underscores the notion that every single thing in your home should have a place where it belongs. If it doesn’t have a home, then find one or consider whether you need the item at all. These 8 organizing tools will help you to keep everything in its rightful place.
A catchall is perfect for keeping items that easily go astray all in one place. Perfect for the front hallway to keep coins and keys corralled or use it on your nightstand to keep jewelry and other accessories in one spot where you can easily find them in the morning. Made from luxurious French calfskin leather, this piece is as practical as it is pretty. Medium Leather Catchall, Gigi New York, $98.
If your home seems to have an infinite number of cords and cables and chargers lying around, try to eliminate the chaos with tools that’ll streamline things. This charging dock, for instance, hides unsightly wires for at least two devices and allows you to charge an iPhone and an Apple Watch in one place, using a charging station that is neat, organized and design-friendly. Valet Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone, Belkin, $129.99.
A house only has so much storage space so sometimes, you have to create more using creative ideas. This woodblock wall shelf is beautifully handcrafted from carved wood and has three sliding drawers and two hooks for hanging coats, umbrellas or other things that need somewhere to go. This piece is as much an organizing tool as it is a decorative piece of wall art. Painted Woodblock Wall Shelf, Urban Outfitters, $49.
Need to eliminate all the ‘stuff’ in your home? Find multifunctional pieces that serve more than one purpose. This ottoman, for instance, can serve as an extra seat for a guest, a side table and a footstool and also provides storage space for things like blankets, throw cushions, magazines and anything else you need to store somewhere. Burlap Seat Storage Ottoman, Ballard Designs, $279.
Bye-bye junk drawers, hello organized haven! For less than the price of a fancy cup of coffee, you can create order out of disorder in any drawer in your home. Whether it’s the junk drawer in the kitchen, the sock drawer in your bedroom or the toiletry drawer in the bathroom, these drawer dividers will make it easy for you to find exactly what you’re looking for. HÖFTA drawer dividers, IKEA, $3.99/3-pack.
We don’t mean to overstate things but: A label maker will change your life. Fine. We said it. You’ll never not know where things are once everything is neatly organized and labelled. This next-gen label maker will create professional looking labels for files, storage bins, clothing and pretty much anything else that easily gets lost in the shuffle. But, it’s easy to get carried away so if you start labelling the kids, you know it’s time to put the label maker down and step away. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Epson Labelworks Lw-300 Label Printer, Amazon, $38.75.
Admittedly, they had us at the name ‘cord taco’. But beyond that, these little leather organizing tools are just adorable and practical. Keep rogue cords around the house like charger cables, USB cords and earphones neat and tidy with these leather holders that shut with a metal snap. Cord Tacos, This is Ground, $29.
In the kitchen, craft room, garage or front hallway, this customizable metal pegboard will help you to keep odds and ends visible and easily accessible. We love that it comes in a variety of fun colours and includes six hooks so that you can design the board to best suit your needs. Metal Pegboard Organizer, Einadesign on Etsy, $59.
Wicker patio furniture
Learn how to spruce up your weatherproof woven furniture and keep it pristine.
Remove all cushions, which should be laundered separately as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove and clean any glass panes (such as tabletops) with a specialty spray.
Using the jet setting, hose the furniture off with water to remove loose dirt, dust and water marks. Though weather-resistant synthetic wicker is significantly sturdier than its natural-fibre counterpart, its textured surface poses the same cleaning challenge. Get into the nooks and crannies by scrubbing the surface with a nylon-bristled brush dipped in soapy water (use one part mild dish soap to eight parts water). If you live in a very wet climate, add one part white vinegar to the solution to ward off mildew. Rinse the furniture with the hose and leave it out in the sun to dry.
At the end of the season, move the furniture to a covered area like a garage or shed, and drape it with cotton canvas sheeting to combat dust. If you’re unable to take it indoors, wrap the furniture tightly in waterproof tarps.
Tried and true tip
When nestled into a verdant yard, your outdoor furniture can get into a sticky situation: Sap drippings from surrounding trees can be tricky to remove. Begin by scraping off any dry sap using a dull blade. Next, rub the remainder using a clean cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol. Wash the alcohol off with mild dish soap and rinse with water. The sap will be gone without a trace.
1 Old timer: J.R. Watkins has made things the old-fashioned way since 1868. All-purpose cleaner in lemon, jrwatkins.com, $6.
2 Limited edition: Get this naturally derived summery scent while you can! Method All-Purpose Cleaner in Sunset Beach, well.ca, $6.
3 Family lore: Developed by a Torontonian based on her grandmother's recipe. All-Purpose cleaner in Lime & Ginger, cisforclean.com, $10.