Ottawa DIY Home Renovations

Advice for Balancing Home Renovation Budgets

Hey Hygge Seekers,

It’s been a really busy week for us trying to nail down our finishes and figure out the order of operations for the renos.  We are project managing this ourselves and have made some really important renovation decisions that we want to share with you! Hopefully this small dose of advice might help you when choosing finishes, counter tops, hardwood floors or appliances and trying to keep your relationship together at the same time.

First off, we picked our hardwood. It’s this amazing light greyish-maple.  We’ve decided to cut out the middle man though, and hire a professional floor installer for almost less than $1.25/sq ft. He is insured, experienced and has a gallery of beautiful work – we found him on Kijiji and will be happy to share the reference once the floors are done and we’re sure it worked out to our advantage. Our guess is that he’s the guy that the flooring companies hire to install their stock and mark-up the labour. We think this route is going to save us over $700. Which might help with our next budget problem…. So there’s your hot reno tip for the day!

Ok, next problem, DO YOU KNOW THE COST OF QUARTZ?! Oh my GAWD. It’s a small kitchen they said, it won’t take a lot of quartz they said…. Those two things are both true, but the quotes we have gotten on quartz have just BLOWN us away. We are talking DOUBLE the price of our cabinetry, MORE than the cost of our appliances, probably the exact cost to send two people on a 5 star vacation to Jamaica…! You get the drift. Really, it’s Kaara’s non-relenting desire to have a waterfall edge on the peninsula and end cabinetry that is particularly driving up the cost, but we’re going to do some more exploring this week and see if we can come up with something else that we’ll (read: she’ll) be happy with.  And then maybe go on a 4 star trip to Jamaica. Hah. We can dream.

Example of a Quartz Countertop with a Waterfall
Example of a Quartz Countertop with a Waterfall

We have the tile picked out and priced out for the bathroom. We also received a quote for a custom shower shield with a black frame and learned about the process for ordering it, timelines, etc.   All of our bathroom fixtures are decided, except we are having a really hard time finding sleek black faucets. The hunt continues.

Bathroom Inspiration

Lastly, we need to order our appliances probably by the end of the week. We continue to be impressed with the sale prices and service at Corbeil. We have nailed down a really tall, thin, counter-depth fridge from Electrolux. It reminds Kaara of her friend’s fridge she visited in The Hague. The European way of eating fresh and wasting less. At one point we were considering an induction stove, but the budget doesn’t allow for it. Plus, being induction, we don’t want to shop for new pots and pans anyways. A paneled Kitchen Aid dishwasher is a go. The washer and dryer will have to wait a few months.


Like the decision on the washer/dryer, we have had to look for places to save that we can easily remedy later. At one point we were looking to vault the ceilings, finish the basement, redo the stairs, re-side the house and honestly, that can all be done later. What needs to be done NOW (so that we can move in), is the kitchen, bath and floors. So we encourage you to ask yourself when the budget is starting to stretch “What can be done later that won’t be undoing the work we’ve done NOW?”

We had to get really real the last week, honest and open with each other about the renovations. We’re beyond happy that there have been no arguments.  We attribute that to the fact to a few things; we have the same tastes in design and style, that we’re both doing our best to be reasonable and give the other person sort of a ‘veto’ every once in awhile. Your second reno hot tip for couples… if you’re the one always being given the power of veto, we encourage you to not abuse that and hand over the reigns every once in awhile. Fighting, arguments and resentment can really put a strain on a relationship. Work together and when things get heated, offer to do more research and come back to the table!

Time to go check out more counter tops.

Sending love and light,

Kaara & Stacy

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