My 5 Favourite Springtime Renovation Projects. After a long and dark winter being shut indoors, trapped in a gloomy interior breathing the same old stale air, we welcome spring with all the light and airy freshness it brings. Just as the trees and flowers send leafy shoots and blossoms into the increasingly brighter days, we humans venture into the angled and tenuous sunshine, welcoming it’s warming rays. Spring is here, and with it, our thoughts turn to outdoor activities and all that it entails, including renovations.
So with this thought, I’ve decided to list 5 of my favourite springtime renovation/remodelling projects. All these ideas revolve around reducing or removing the barrier between indoors and outdoors or they lighten and brighten the interior living space. All of these have varying budgets, some will require expert design and tradespersons to perform the work and some are in the D.I.Y. category.
One of the least expensive projects for the home and one where you can make a dramatic difference in how the space looks and feels, is to repaint interior rooms. If your home has a chopped up floor plan or smaller windows, then stick to a single colour and keep it light. Remember, the goal is to lighten and brighten, so stay away from the Crayola box. Also, spend the money on a colour consultant, usually available at the paint store. If that consultant has been through Maria Killam’s “How To Choose Paint Colours” course, that’s even better. (BTW, my wife Nancy has taken that course) The money you spend will be well worth it. You can also save money by painting it yourself. Just remember to purchase quality tools and paint. It will make the job go much easier.
Interior Moulding and Trim
This is another project that can be found in the D.I.Y column. Yes, you will have to purchase a decent cut-off saw along with a finishing nail gun and compressor (although Home Depot has a Ryobi battery unit nail gun for around $150.00) but it is reasonably easy to learn how to install baseboard, casing and crown moulding. And here is another tip: almost anything you need to find out how to do can be located on YouTube. Just type in “How to install baseboard” and there will be a number of videos that will give you all the help you need. Combine this with the wall repaint and you will have made a significant improvement in how your home looks and feels.
If you have a room, perhaps a kitchen, that is dark and makes you feel gloomy, then adding skylights over the area will brighten up both the room and your mood. Skylights are reasonably easy to install, but unless you have had some real carpentry experience, or your brother, uncle, cousin is one, then leave this type of project for the professionals. There are many issues that come with installing this type of product and if not installed correctly, then you will have a bucket (note the pun) full of problems – from water leaks to cold spots, mould and condensation.
Open Concept Kitchen/Family Room
The open plan, shown on the image above, was not normally built in new homes until just a few years ago. Houses built, even not that many years ago, usually had a kitchen that was separate from the living room and/or dining room. This was the case even in the ‘90s when I was designing new homes for subdivisions. At best they had a small eating area adjacent to the kitchen and it was taken up with the rear entry to the house. All of this has meant a boon for renovation designers like myself in that I did so many plans where the kitchen, dining and living room were opened up to each other. Below is one example of a kitchen we designed to meet that criteria. What a dramatic difference! I still get a thrill when I look at the changes that were made.
Image by SDW Kitchen Before
Image by SDW Kitchen After
Kitchen Remodel with Open Concept Kitchen/Living Room
Please note this kind of project will require professional help. There are structural considerations that will need to be addressed as well as the kitchen cabinet design and other interior materials and components. That being said, if you choose to work with an experienced and talented team, these types of projects will make a huge improvement in your day to day experience inside the home.
If there is one area that has had increased interest and growth in home improvements it is outdoor living. Being able to utilize and enjoy the rear yard of the home and to add a large variety of features to the space has driven new products to fill the need for BBQs, seating, heaters, fire pits, covered space, hot tubs, pools and much more. Have a look at the outdoor kitchen shown in the image above. Check out the number of appliances it holds. Besides the required BBQ, it has a double burner cook top, a warming drawer, a pop/wine cooler, built-in refrigeration, oven and a couple more I cannot identify. This appliance budget would overshadow that of most new home kitchens.
Image by SDW
Stevenson Design Works 2005 B.C. Home and Garden Show “Outdoor Living” Booth
In 2005 I had identified the growth of outdoor living and so in addition to our regular renovation Home Show booth, we built the one shown in the above image. It included a pergola over the patio, an outdoor kitchen /w BBQ, wine cooler and Sub-Zero refrigerator pullout drawers. The countertops were a new, man-made material –quartz. It had a patio heater overhead and some furniture. All in all, it showcased a new phenomenon – Outdoor Living. After the show was over, we transported most of the booth to our back yard and in addition to this we added a hot tub and we were good to go.
Transitional Living – Transparency To The Outdoors
When I am designing indoor/outdoor space, I consider how much transparency I can achieve and how will that affect the budget. The image above shows 2 sets of folding doors that store back, out of the way to provide a clear, unimpeded view of the outdoors. I would give this a high level of transparency. This type of folding door system does come at a cost, a conservative estimate would be $1250-1500 per lineal foot. That would make a 9ft patio door opening cost around $14K.which is not in most renovation budgets. So the lesson we learn here is that in the renovation business almost anything is possible, held back by just how far the owners would like to dip into their wallet.