Monday, 15 April 2013

Tips for a low stress renovation experience

Our bathroom renovation feels so much less stressful than our kitchen reno was. We are so much more organized this time. During our kitchen renovation while work was already at full speed we were still frantically looking for a sink, picking out paint colours and tracking down window casings. It made the process very stressful. This time around, we wanted to be more organized. We bought everything we needed for the reno in advance right down to the door stopper and towel hooks. 

We also learned to communicate better with our tradesmen. To give you an example, we purchased a tile ready recessed shower niche from Home Depot that was installed into the wall opening by our builder. Here it is after the installation.

As I wanted to make the niche a feature in our bathroom we picked up 6X6 white tiles to create a design on the niche. I stayed up late the night before the tiling job began and made a simple drawing. Of course, Misha had a different idea so I actually had to make two drawings, one based on my idea and one based on his.

We settled on his idea and showed it to Daniel, our tiler. Daniel made some tweaks to the design, added some of his insights and we were all happy.

Misha also made a little sketch of our bathroom (to scale) to aid the tradesmen in coordinating their jobs and getting everything where we wanted it. Here he is working hard at it.

We neglected to make this type of a plan for our kitchen reno and as a result we ended up having to move one of the electrical boxes after the wall was already closed up. This time, Misha’s bathroom plan was used by all our workers and our builder even hung it up in the bathroom as a reference. It looked like we hired an architect; Misha did a great job!

We have learned a lot just by going through these renovations and definitely the more reno you do the better you get at it. Only a few more days and our bathroom will be done. I can't wait. We already love it!

Below are a few tips that might help you with your renovation planning.



Tips for a low stress renovation experience:

  1. Plan, plan, plan ahead– We spent about three months planning our new bathroom, which I heard is actually a short time.
  2. Buy everything in advance – Even the smallest thing is worth picking up before the renovation starts.  Once the work begins there will be many unexpected decisions that you will have to make.  Being organized will reduce your stress level significantly and you will be able to focus on the process more.
  3. Communicate your wants clearly; no detail is too small – During our kitchen reno we assumed that the tradesmen had the same vision as us and we were disappointed when things didn’t get done the way we wanted. So, never assume and always speak your mind; even if it feels like you are micromanaging.
  4. Review the completed work at the end of each day –We spent about 10 minutes at the end of each day going over the work that got done that day. We kept a piece of paper on our kitchen table where we wrote down daily what needed to be addressed the next day. We caught a couple things that we pointed out right away to our builder and he corrected them easily. If we had waited it would have been a much bigger issue as the reno progressed.


  1. Hiya Mia,
    I have been following your renovation blogs and am finding them very helpful in my own life. I am a first time home buyer and we are looking to do some affordable renos

    We are looking to rip out our countertops and put in the same butcher block countertops you folks have used. I'm wondering who you used to install and cut them in Toronto (and surrounding area)? Also any recommendations on a general contractor for a bathroom reno would be great!

    All the best,

  2. Hi Lauren
    We are so happy to hear from you and glad you are finding the blog helpful. We found it difficult to find someone to install our butcher block. Most companies only install laminate or granite. In the end we got our general contractor to install it. His only issue was he did not have a saw that could cut it. We measured it carefully then went to
    Scarborough Countertops & Design Inc., 1320 Ellesmere Road #4
    Toronto (Scarborough)., ON M1P 2X9
    (416) 299-7144.
    I can't remember what they charged us but it was reasonable (maybe $70.00 - $100.00). It took about 20 minutes for them to cut it. The butcher block fit perfectly and we love it. We oil it once in a while with pure food grade walnut oil. We got the butcher block from IKEA and overall we are happy with it although it did develop one small crack. We fixed that and if you ever have that issue let us know and we will share the repair trick for that. Unnoticeable now. We are not sure why it developed a crack but we read that it could be because it was screwed down to tightly. It is important to use the brackets and leave a little room for the wood to expand and contract. We found one other person on the web that had the same issue with an IKEA butcher block but most seemed to have no problems. We love the butcher block and would put one in again. Lemme know if you have any other questions. Take care, Misha and Mia