The Case For The In-Between Renovation

How do you improve the look of a space you’re inevitably going to remodel (without wasting money, effort or time)?

Let me tell ya! I updated my bathroom TWICE before I saved enough to go full tilt.

I chatted about the process (and what-to-do and not-to-do) with CBC Life — check out the interview here.

If you own your own home (and congrats on that in this intimidating real estate market!) chances are you’ve had to let go of some of your Pinterest-inspired aspirations at some point. Whether you bought a fixer-upper or something that’s relatively move-in ready, chances are there’s a room in need of a little TLC — and it’s often a bathroom. But if you don’t have much of a reno budget, how do you make do with a space you can’t stand to face? Enter the two-phase renovation — simply put, it’s about doing a little work for now and a lot of it later, when you’ve built up some savings again.

We turned to reno-expert, Sabrina Smelko, a proponent of this 2-phase reno strategy, for her insights into what to renovate ASAP, and what to save for the full-scale redo. Sabrina is a designer of pixels, places + things, content creator, co-host of HGTV’s Save My Reno, and also happens to be a homeowner with some wisdom to share. She reassured us that you can have a pretty powder room on a pretty tiny budget.

Why did you decide to do your bathroom re-do in two phases?

The motivation was money—or a lack thereof! It’s hard to become a homeowner this day and age, but I don’t believe that has to mean living with a space you hate! The first two updates I made (which were really just paint, decor and peel and stick tile) came as a result of desiring pretty, but having a tiny budget.

Doing it in stages not only allowed me to save up for the full monty, but it offered me time to discover the real pain points. More than aesthetics, figuring out what truly bugged me was a valuable exercise. Then, once I finally had the means to do it up right, I knew exactly what I needed and wanted out of the space.

How do you make an “in-between” bathroom enjoyable without it feeling like a temporary fix?

I think updating paint, lighting and accessories can make even the most heinous vanity or tile work! Paint is such a cheap and easy way to refresh a space, and swapping lighting to not just one that looks good, but ones that cast a more flattering light, makes a huge difference. Then pile on pretty accessories! Also, if you have the means to update most fixtures/lighting, or if you’re going to update something that requires patch-work drywall, then just wait until you can do it all in one go!

Give us your top tips for designing a bathroom that will inevitably be redone.

The key with the “in-between update stage” for any space is not wasting money. So lean heavily on accessories/fixtures that you can envision using for years to come—whether in that specific space or elsewhere. And if you insist on updating your floor tile, consider sheet or peel-and-stick vinyl flooring. It changes the whole look for mere bucks! As for wall tile, there’s tons of paint options these days. It may not last forever, but if you need a refreshed look for a year or so while you save, it’s worth considering. Also—plants! They freshen up any space and live forever—if you know what you’re doing 😉

… read the rest of the interview here.

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