Renovating Your Dream Home on a Budget
Written by Megan Cunningham

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

I've recently become the proud owner of my very own (outdated) loft in downtown Toronto. Because I'm juggling the costs of my first mortgage, on top of condo fees, taxes and bills, I've had to take an innovative approach towards upgrading my new place.

Whether you find yourself in a similar situation, or you want to revamp your home, here's what I've learned so far about renovating on a tight budget.


I started my low-cost renos in the kitchen because I love to cook and knew I'd be spending a lot of time here.

My countertops were worn out and the dark colour brought a sombre look to the apartment. To brighten them up, I chose wood countertops because they're durable, anti-bacterial and affordable. If you're willing to get your hands dirty, you can source reclaimed wood and cut it to size.

In the end, I only spent $330: $320 on two pieces of oak, and $10 on oil to protect the wood. The best part was, I had a leftover piece that I now use as a butcher's block.

Next, I took apart my cabinets to give them a fresh coat of paint. All I needed was a piece of sandpaper, primer, a paint brush and paint – coming to a grand total of $60. When you compare that to buying brand new cabinets for $500+, this felt like a steal.

If you want to upgrade your knobs, all you need is a can of spray paint that works well on metal.


When I was apartment hunting, I realized how many bathrooms are stuck in the 90s. From terracotta floors to old school vanities, I knew my bathroom would likely be in desperate need of some upgrades, and I was right.

After doing some research, I discovered peel and stick tiles. I'm not a natural handywoman, but fortunately the installation was straightforward — measure and cut each tile, peel off the paper backing, and press it onto the floor. One box of tiles covered my 28-square foot bathroom and only cost $30.

To freshen up the rest of the bathroom, I focused on smaller scale projects like a fresh coat of paint on the walls, a new shower curtain, and spray painting the existing lighting fixtures. You can apply the same trick I used in the kitchen to revamp the bathroom cabinets – if you have enough leftover supplies from the kitchen, you won't even need to spend a dime.


My last project (for now) was to rip up the old carpet on my stairs and refinish the wood underneath. After reading about other renovation projects online, I learned how cost-effective it was to do it yourself.

Warning: set aside an entire weekend as this is a labour of love.

For this job you need: pliers, a utility knife, wood filler, sandpaper and paint or wood stain. Luckily, my parents are well-equipped with renovation supplies and only live a few blocks away. For step-by-step instructions, I'd recommend looking at home renovation blogs such as this one. My new staircase only cost me $60.

Home Sweet Home

In the end, it's a wonderful feeling to finish a big project on your home. My best advice when tackling your own renovations is to do your research, enlist the help of your friends and believe in yourself.

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