Is your house singing that famous Righteous Brothers' song, "you've lost that loving feeling," whenever you come home? Do you feel like Sheryl Crow, where a "change would do you good?" Is your "stairway to heaven" feeling more like a "highway to hell?"
As much as we would all love to change/renovate our personal palaces often, it's simply not realistic. If selling your home isn’t an option (and for most of us it's not), there are ways you can re-ignite that fire.
I recently had a great chat with local handyman and reno guy extraordinaire, Darius Kaszuba, founder of DK Handyman Services, to get some vital and cost effective ways to re-enter the honeymoon stage with your house and harmonize your home.
1. Spice up your kitchen
The words “kitchen” and “renovation” in the same sentence usually go hand in hand with “expensive.” With kitchen renovations costing Canadians an average of $50,000, it could be painful to even think about.
“Go for simple upgrades. You don‘t have to go all out. I mean, $50,000, that’s excessive, that’s a dream kitchen, you know, marble, granite all that. Even for $20,000, you can do a brand new kitchen and it would look pretty close to the big budget kitchen,” says Kaszuba.
If you don’t want to spend that much money, the strongest visual change can be found via cabinets. Give the cabinets a fresh coat of paint to bring back that loving feeling. If they’re wood, strip the old varnish off and stain them. For a modern look, paint your cabinets white and add a backsplash.
Also, counter tops are a main kitchen feature and are not that expensive. If you have those old particleboard counter tops, you could invest a reasonable amount and upgrade to granite, quartz or recycled, among many others that can give an elegant look.
2. Take your lighting to the next level with LED
There was a time when, just like with anything new, people were skeptical. Switching to LED lighting was expensive and possibly complicated to retrofit. The most visually restricting characteristic of LEDs was their cool light. “Nowadays they have warm LED bulbs, so it’s not so much an issue anymore,” says Kaszuba. Not to mention, the prices for LED bulbs have come down significantly since their introduction to the marketplace, and in Ontario, you can get further discounts using SaveONEnergy coupons.
Then there are the money saving benefits of LED bulbs in your home. Go ahead, install them and just look at your electricity bill and shed tears of happiness.
“If you think about it, really, the cool thing is when you have incandescent bulbs, the average lifespan is about 1,200 hours compared to an LED which will go on for 50,000 hours,” remarked Darius.
Also, LED’s are cool. I don’t mean sunglasses-wearing, hair-slicked cool. I mean cool to the touch, which means they’re safer, which is actually pretty cool.
3. Put a new coat (of paint) on
Paint is always the go-to for updating a look, but don’t overlook the importance of giving your trim some attention. “For example; window trims, door casings, usually stay white. So, that’s one of those things you can do that will make your home look a lot lot newer,” suggests Kaszuba. This would probably be the most cost-efficient update and a great, easy project to tackle over the weekend.
4. Transform your basement from a dungeon to a sanctuary
As a kid, the basement was either a concrete playground where I could ride my bike indoors in the winter or a creepy dungeon that wouldn’t dare be visited alone. As an adult, a home gym or a movie theatre can provide added value to potential buyers, or even act as an extra room to hide from your party guests. Anything but a useless, cold underbelly that is home to your washer and dryer and crawling critters. It may seem like a big undertaking, but a basement renovation doesn’t have to be all that complicated according to Kaszuba.
“Do the basics; frame and drywall, insulate it properly and put down moisture barrier, give it a nice paint job and put some flooring down,” advised Kaszuba.
“Flooring in the basement is actually a big deal. Sometimes basements can have mildew and moisture issues. A lot of people will put particleboard laminate flooring in basements. Not a good idea, because that material will absorb moisture and the floor planks will start popping up and warping. Especially if you have a high problem area where you have a minor leak. For basements, I always recommend using the thickest padding you can find with a PVC laminate which will keep your feet warm, act as a sound barrier, last longer and won't absorb moisture. Also, avoid adding a dropped ceiling in a basement. With ceilings already being low, you don’t want to add this feature and lose headroom. Dropped ceilings are a commercial application and they look tacky and dated in homes. Instead, just go the extra mile and drywall your ceiling.”
5. Make your bathroom(s) a place to de-stress
The bathroom is not usually one of the largest rooms in your house, but most of us spend a considerable amount of time in there. From getting ready to having a candlelit bath after a long day, it is one of the most used rooms in the home. Investing in this part of your home can really be rewarding.
“You can go the cost-effective route and paint your existing vanity for a refresh. Or keep on the look out for deals on vanities at your local hardware store. Sometimes you can get a great deal on 'as-is' items which have negligible damage but big savings,” commented Kaszuba.
“Put some tile down in your bathroom. Maybe you’ll spend a couple hundred bucks on re-tiling, which isn’t a huge cost, but it makes a huge difference and looks a lot cleaner.”
6. The Foyer – because you never get a second chance to make a first impression
Walking into your home can be a stress point when you feel like you have entered a time warp behind your front door. You may not spend a considerable amount of time in this part of your home, but it is the first thing you and your guests will see upon entering.
According to Kaszuba, “the front entrance is always the first thing that hits the eye. So, if you have a front foyer that has old floors, rip it up. It’s going to cost you a couple hundred bucks to put some nice tile down or go the extra mile to add marble, but as soon as someone walks in, they see a place that looks high quality, clean and upgraded."
7. Tear down walls and let people in
Gone are the days of having separation between rooms. Modern design today is all about opening up the home and getting more creative with dividing spaces instead of just closing them off with walls and doors. Kaszuba is most enthusiastic about this home reno as it has a dramatic before and after effect, especially in a home with less square footage.
“Half the walls on the main floor of most homes are highly unnecessary as long as they’re not load bearing. It’s a much different feel. Opening it up gives the feel of more space and more room. It’s not a tough project and adds a lot of value.”
8. Stairs – not just for climbing anymore
For those courageous enough to take on this project, apparently it’s not that challenging and can be quite a rewarding change in your home style.
“Most people will leave the stairs as carpeted builder's stairs. This might be one of the coolest DIY projects. Most of the time, you don’t even need to do much. Just sand, stain, varnish, and the same goes for the railing and spindles. For a little guidance, you can always check out a few tutorials online."
Of course, this will only work if you have removed the carpet and found hardwood. It is extremely common to find that some builders will have used particleboard for the stairs and at that point, you may want to call in the pros. Before you go all weekend warrior on your stairs, just take a quick peek underneath the carpet in a small corner to see what you’re working with.
Whatever the case, you can always just update your railing and spindles. “In most high end homes, you will usually find white spindles with a dark stained railing.”
They say home is where the heart is, so show it some love with these simple modifications. Some of us like to tackle these projects ourselves ,but for all renovations that are much more daunting, it’s always best to leave it to the professionals. If you’re thinking of making some changes in your headquarters, call DK Handyman services, 647-608-8205.
For great pictures on his adventures in renovations, visit him on Instagram or Facebook.
A proud native of Mississauga, Jennifer Tarenta has been expressing herself in many different mediums since she was a toddler. She trains as a boxer, just in case she ever needs to be a street fighter. She loves music - mostly hip-hop, reggae and Justin Bieber. She also loves short walks down the street, delicious food, design & architecture and adventures locally or abroad. Find her on Twitter or Instagram to see what she’s up to these days.