Renovations are one way of getting a step closer to your dream home. Since moving to Toronto, I’ve noticed just how many peers and colleagues are doing some form of reno. And while at times the thought of it sounds very daunting, I’m also rather intrigued at how the whole thing works.
In this blog I interview a friend, Taryn Green, who together with her husband, had no background in renovating properties. Despite this they managed to turn their house into one hell of a home.
Read on for a very honest and inspiring tale of a house reno in Toronto’s Riverside.

Q1: Is there ever a good time to renovate and if so when?

A: Renovating is stressful, expensive, and time consuming so I’d generally suggest avoiding renos when you have other things going on in your life that share those qualities. Consider how it will impact your day to day life: Will you have to relocate? Do you have major expenses coming up? Are you on a really strict timeline? If so, you may want to wait or adjust your scope. That being said, we recently started a reno project when I was 30 weeks pregnant with the goal of completing it before the baby arrived.  Recognize that your life will be somewhat thrown into turmoil for a while and try to manage your expectations. You are going to experience delays and setbacks so it’s wise to prepare yourself mentally and financially so you can stay as zen as possible during the process.

Q2: How did you plan and schedule your renovations?

A: In our case, we were working with a very old house that needed a lot of behind-the-scenes work. A room by room schedule would have been challenging because so much work was needed throughout. We were fortunately able to move out while we gutted the entire house and addressed all the structural, electrical and HVAC issues at once. We’ve been gradually putting things back together floor by floor. We started with the main and second floor so that we’d have somewhere to live and have since done the third floor. The basement and kitchen will be the final phase and are in progress now. Every home and project is different so the planning and scheduling is dependent upon existing conditions, what your ultimate plan is, your budget, etc. I highly recommend seeking the advice of a contractor and architect during the planning stages. Even if you don’t hire them for a whole-house reno, they will be able to give you insights into the best way to schedule the work in order to minimize disruptions and costs.
Sneak peak of some during and after photos:
Living room during reno
Living Room Demo
Living room post reno
Living room post reno
Living room and staircase during reno
Living room and staircase
Living room and hallway during reno
Living room post reno
Living  room post reno
Hallway post reno
Hallway post reno

Q3: What did you enjoy most about the process?

A: I loved watching the progress day to day and seeing a space come together. It’s exciting to anticipate each stage and watch your vision come to life. We also did some of the work on our house ourselves and I really enjoyed learning new skills throughout the process. It was empowering to learn how to use a saw and a drill and build something with my own hands.

Q4: What advice would you give to someone considering renovating? 

A: It will always cost more and take longer than you expect. Planning is also critical – allow time for planning, procurement, scheduling contractors, etc. If you’re making all your decisions on the fly, you risk backing yourself into an expensive, stressful corner.

Q5: What was the most disruptive part of the process?

A: Demolition is messy and very noisy. Plaster dust finds its way into everything.

Q6: Where did you find your inspiration?

A: All over! We got ideas from restaurants we loved, hotels we’ve stayed in, and other homes we saw while we were house-hunting. Design magazines are great but most people aren’t going to be featured in Architectural Digest so I especially love “real home” tours on Apartment Therapy and design blogs that show the entire process of a renovation.
A *HUGE* thanks to Taryn for her thoughtful response to my questions and for sharing such awe-inspiring and beautiful photos of their renovation project in Riverside.
I hope you found this interview to provide you with a solid understanding of the considerations surrounding a renovation. As well as a little inspiration for the brave who are up to the challenge of a reno, both mentally, physically and financially!
A renovation is by no means a challenge to be approached lightly, however as demonstrated in the interview and photos, the results can be truly spectacular.