Updating your driveway
When considering what home improvements you can make to help increase the value of your home, updating your driveway probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But don’t rule it out: Your driveway is one of the first things people see on your property and it has a big impact on your home’s curb appeal.
Examine your options
An attractive, well-maintained driveway can go a long way to enhance your curb appeal, which instantly increases its value.
1 Classic asphalt and gravel
Classic black asphalt driveways and gravel driveways are common options that still look great. They won’t knock the socks off any potential homebuyers, but they’re inexpensive to put in and inexpensive to maintain, making them great choices for the average budget-conscious homeowner. They only cost about $1.50 a square foot, so it’s easy to see why they’re such popular choices.
Concrete is a pricier option, coming in at about $4 a square foot, but it has a much cleaner, modern look. If laid properly, concrete can last up to 30 years, with almost zero maintenance besides an annual power wash. A coloured or stamped finish can really boost the look of concrete, but it will also raise the price tag, so be sure to shop around for quotes before you commit.
3 Brick or cobblestone
Brick or cobblestone pavers are the most attractive driveway option and have endless possibilities for colour and pattern. This option requires a professional. Hiring an expert who can create a plan to incorporate the driveway with your exterior hardscaping and come up with the look you really want is worth every penny – even if that means forking over $10 a square foot.
What things should I consider to get the best return on investment from my driveway?
First of all, look around your neighbourhood. Does every house but yours have a driveway? If your answer is yes, that’s a good reason to add some parking. Also, ask yourself if parking is at a premium in your area. If it is, adding a parking spot could really increase the value of your home. If you have room for extra parking on top of what you need or use, remember that you can rent out spaces for extra cash flow, too.
Should I turn my lawn into a parking pad if I don’t have any other parking options?
No, not if you’re worried about resale value and especially not if it will take up your entire yard. In most municipalities, street parking is permitted and generally adequate in residential areas. Driveway parking is definitely a perk but not if you have to sacrifice your green space to have it. Also, remember that adding parking requires city approval, so make sure to get all appropriate permits before you start breaking ground.
Learn to renovate your basement the right way.
Contractor and TV star Bryan Baeumler offers tips on how to renovate your basement properly and save money long term.
Finished basements have become more popular over the past few decades. No longer are they viewed as dark caves where mechanical systems clank away and spiders abound. Instead, they offer additional space and can increase the value of your home - as long as you keep a few simple things in mind.
Photography by Michael Graydon
1 Bedroom addition
Incorporating a bedroom in the basement is a great way to make room for guest and create extra storage space. But it also means making sure there’s a legal egress in case of fire - typically a window with an opening big enough to allow escape, as well as a window well deep enough to facilitate that hasty exit. And yes, you’ll need permits. $2000 to $3000 for window supply and installation.
2 Wall insulation
A basement’s outside walls often aren’t well insulated, so opt for spray foam or rigid insulation. You’ll spend a few extra dollars but it will pay of in the long run, since your furnace won’t need to work as hard to heat up your home. $3000 to $4000 to insulate a standard basement.
3 Subfloor solution
The days of damp floors and cold feet are over. I’m a big fan of dricore subfloor panels because they provide a ready-to-use foundation for installing the finished floor. You can frame and fasten your walls on top of the subfloor with ease, which maintains a thermal break and air gap between the concrete and top layers of flooring. It also raises the room’s temperature. $2 per sq. ft.
Photography by Mark Burstyn
4 Bathroom addition
Building a bathroom in the basement will add value to your home, as long as it’s well planned. Good news: Most new homes have basement bathroom rough-ins already installed. Have you ever wondered what those random capped pipes are that stick out from the concrete? Now you know! If yours doesn’t, a plumber will need to open up a channel from the bathroom area all the way to the main stack or sewer line. $3000 to $5000 for rough-ins.
Add or expand your closet space with helpful tips and tricks from Scott McGillivray
If you live in a condo or an older house, you know that closet space is at a premium. Adding a closet or expanding an existing one will help to increase the functionality and value of your home. Or, if it’s a low-cost, flexible solution you’re after, stand-alone wardrobes are always an option.
Photography courtesy of istockphoto.com
Adding and increasing
You’d be surprised where you can squeeze in closet space. Consider, for instance, the often overlooked area underneath your staircase. With a little ingenuity, you can really gain some valuable extra storage. If it’s your bedroom closet that’s lacking, you may be able to get away with widening or deepening it – or even building a new one – by expanding into an adjacent room. Just be sure the other space is large enough to give up that square footage without losing its functionality.
Photography courtesy of Stacey Van Berkel
The easiest and most affordable way to increase closet space is by adding stand-alone wardrobes along a wall. What’s great about this solution is that they’re a non-permanent addition, so when it comes time to sell, buyers will be able to visualize the space as either having the extra storage or not.
A lot of people ask me if converting a small bedroom into a walk-in closet is worth it. It’s the simplest and most obvious solution to a lack of closet space in a house, but before you commit to this type of reno, there’s something to consider first. Does your home have four (or more) bedrooms? The most appealing type of property to the majority of prospective buyers is a detached house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Bringing your home down to two bedrooms eliminates a large portion of the home-buying population, so any value you gain by adding the big closet is erased. However, if you plan on staying in your home for the next 20 years and this is a “just for you” renovation, go for it.
This Toronto dwelling, with its book-laden walls and cozy corners, is a reader's dream.
Easygoing, trusting and super stylish: These homeowners were downright dream clients for designer Robyn Rider, whom they hired to revamp their newly purchased three-bedroom dwelling in downtown Toronto. The protege of the designer who’d transformed their previous house, Robyn was the prime candidate to deliver an updated look to these downsizing lawyers’ home.
“They have great taste and great pieces to work with,” says Robyn – plus, lots of books. Though the homeowners significantly reduced their large book collection, the remaining titles were more than substantial, including legal references, favourite reads, hardcover sets and prized heirlooms. It’s only fitting, then, that the only directive Robyn was given was to accommodate this veritable library, which ended up dictating much of the main floor’s design.
Robyn added floor-to-ceiling bookcases throughout the entire main level to achieve the perfect marriage of library and living space. This is especially evident in the dining room, which she designed as a place to not only eat meals and host dinner parties but also to lounge by the fire with a good book. To that effect, a cozy armchair by the fireplace is accompanied by a reading lamp and footstool, and the banquette at the round urn-based dining table is extra-deep and extra-comfy. “I wanted to create an intimate area that could accommodate guests, but where the homeowners wouldn’t feel ridiculous when it’s just the two of them,” says Robyn.
While the central kitchen marks a bit of a departure from the scholarly look, it still feels like a seamless part of the open-concept living area. “I used cabinets featuring the same profile and colour as the millwork in the adjacent dining and living rooms,” says Robyn. Integrated and panelled appliances as well as cabinetry with footed toe kicks lend the space a furnished feel, while oversized lantern-style pendant lights above the island are the kind you might find over a formal dining table, further blending the lines between the cooking zone and the rest of the home.
After all, the kitchen leads right into the living room, which returns to books. “I didn’t even try to organize or colour code them,” says Robyn of her approach to keeping the look cohesive. “It would have felt too contrived.” (Plus, the husband is pretty particular about organizing things by subject.) So, to temper the mismatched assortment, Robyn created a serene envelope of white millwork and cream walls, which she used throughout the main level. “We could afford to be quieter with the paint palette considering the books and the bold textiles,” she explains, noting examples like the traditional multi-hued heirloom needlepoint rug and contemporary zigzag-patterned armchairs. “The homeowners definitely didn’t need to be convinced to use colour,” says Robyn. “It actually took some convincing to leave the walls neutral!”
Once Robyn finessed the final details of the newly designed house, the homeowners unpacked and arranged their last tomes onto the shelves, ready to begin their new chapter.
French doors – which lead to a backyard oasis that borders a ravine – let a tremendous amount of light into the living room of this Toronto house designed by Robyn Rider. Because of the kitchen’s proximity to this space, it was decorated with statement pieces, such as oversized lantern-style pendant lights, to unify the areas.
Black soapstone counter- tops break up the white kitchen cabinetry that would have otherwise looked too clinical in this cozy space. Even though it’s quite high maintenance, soapstone adds warmth and lustre. “It’s an extra layer of luxury,” says Robyn.
The first space you see when you walk through the front door is the powder room. It sets the tone for the punchy greens and bold prints used throughout the rest of the house.
The library-inspired living room features clever design details, such as space-saving pull-out shelves in place of side tables. “I was channelling British townhouse style, in which everything has a purpose,” says Robyn.
Reminding Robyn (pictured right) of gardens in Provence, the table base, an oversized urn, was the jumping-off point for the dining room’s palette. “I love its intense green colour,” says the designer, “and I just went with it!” The homeowners also love the extra-deep banquette. Robyn used a bold botanical print on the Roman shades to blur the border between indoors and out, imparting a lively and verdant atmosphere.
A dining area and reading nook rolled into one, this room sees a lot of action. The bookcases, lined with selections and collections most meaningful to the homeowners, lend an old-world vibe that is punched up by the fresh armchair fabric.
A serene departure from the rest of the house, the main guest room is soft yet sophisticated. The antique settee is a family heirloom that Robyn had reupholstered with a contemporary centre stripe design. From there, Robyn layered in more powder blue and cream elements into the space but brought in dove grey to counter the femininity. “Powder blue on its own can border on prissy,” she explains.
Photography by Stacey Brandford