7 small home renos that will give you the most bang for your buck

Jan 8 2020, 12:22 pm

We’re living in the era of the micro-unit, the studio, and the one-bedroom basement suite. But while we might be short on space, it doesn’t mean we’re short on opportunity.

It doesn’t matter if you’re currently renting a place or if you’ve just bought a fixer-upper; you can still transform your pad into a dream home with some simple renos (that won’t burn a hole in your pocket).

To prove this, we spoke with DIY and reno expert Jordan Spear and designer Andrea Coleman of Fine Finishes Design Inc. ahead of their presentations at The 2020 GTA Home & Reno Show, taking place at The International Centre from February 14 to 17. The pair are among many experts participating in the four-day event, alongside HGTV’s Scott McGillivray, Janice Fedak, Amber Mac, and the BroLaws.

If you’re looking to get ahead on some minor renovations before the show, here’s everything you need to know.

But first… how to effectively renovate on a budget

Geometric design/Unsplash

As an expert in the design space, Coleman knows a thing or two about completing projects within budget. The first thing her team does before working on a renovation? Create a plan, collect the finishes, get quotes for materials, and put everything into a spreadsheet.

“We find this extremely helpful as everything we could possibly need for the renovation is accounted for in our document,” Coleman explains. This lets you see how much you’re spending on materials and where you could save a little bit. However, no matter what your budget is, the designer says don’t account for 100% of it.

Reserving 10% to 15% of the budget for unknowns (such as plumbing or electrical issues) gives you peace of mind. If there are no surprises, you can upgrade items like your lighting or fixtures.

Ready to get started? Here are seven renovations you can do right now to make a big difference in your home.

Create space in your most-frequented areas

Smart storage in the kitchen/Unsplash

We all spend a lot of time in certain spaces of our home, right? Well, Spear recommends choosing an area like this and using every square inch. Think kitchens, bathrooms, and front entryways. “Opt for smart storage solutions to keep the clutter hidden away, but also to make the most of small areas,” he says.

Combine rooms (and remove walls, if necessary)

Yes, this is possible — even with the smallest of spaces. As long walls are non-structural, you can remove them to really open up a room and give you a sense of having a larger space. Take it further by finding unused storage spaces in your walls. “Adding storage niches in between the studs is an easy and economical way to add interest, and more importantly storage to your space,” says Spear.

Add sliders and pocket doors

Pocket door/Shutterstock

There’s something very farmhouse-inspired about pocket doors, and we can’t get enough of them. No matter what size your space is, removing traditional doors allows for more usable floor space. Renters can try a sliding door or even a curtain for a non-permanent solution.

Make every spot useful

Living in a space where you have to climb over your belongings to get from one room to another is no fun. This is why Spear suggests making even the smallest spaces more useful. “Get rid of the pedestal sink and consider adding a vanity with storage below. In the bedroom, look to store away seasonal clothes with the addition of under-bed storage drawers.”

Learn how to tile like a pro

Tile backsplash/Shutterstock

If you’re interested in learning how to tile, Spear says to start with a backsplash. “Tiles are generally smaller, so they are easier to work with, and by practising on a small space, you can learn skills that can be applied to bigger projects.” Bonus? You now have a self-designed backsplash!

Paint those tired cabinets

Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. It adds colour to your home and is a great way to refresh a dated kitchen or bathroom without the big price tag (a win-win, if you ask us).

Add a feature wall

Feature wall/Shutterstock

Whether it’s in your living area or bedroom, having a feature wall is an amazing way to make a room pop. “Adding shiplap, panels, board and batten, or barn wood can easily be accomplished with simple tools like a saw, hammer, and nails,” says Spear.

To create the illusion of more overall space in your home, Coleman says choosing lighter, neutral colours can make your walls visually recede, while deeper colours tend to come forward and create coziness.


Feeling inspired to give your home a little TLC? The 2020 GTA Home & Reno Show is the perfect place to discover the hottest interior design trends and get hands-on in the DIY Centre onsite.

Since the show falls over Family Day Weekend, there will be many activities for the kids to enjoy all weekend long. Plus, children age 12 and under get free admission.

The rest of us can avoid lineups at the event by snapping up General Admission Early Bird tickets at $12 each via The GTA Home & Reno Show website. Hurry — this pricing is only available until Thursday, February 13.

See you on the exhibition floor!

The 2020 GTA Home & Reno Show

When: Friday, February 14 to Monday, February 17
Time: 

  • Friday, February 14: 10 am to 8 pm
  • Saturday, February 15: 10 am to 8 pm
  • Sunday, February 16: 10 am to 6 pm
  • Monday, February 17: 10 am to 6 pm

Where: The International Centre — 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga
Tickets: $12 for Early Bird General Admission passes — Available via GTA Home & Reno Show