How much should one spend on home renovations?

Most of the regular readers here already know of my back and forth indecision over should I move or stay put. I’ve been receiving emailed real estate updates each day, however nothing has come close to what I already have.

All good! Makes me realize how well I do have things and allows me to be super picky! It’s nice when you don’t HAVE to move, isn’t it?

However as I still work my way all around the what-ifs, I’ve been deciding if I should do some bigger renos on the house so I can get things to where I truly love, or just get it to a state that looks as good as it can be in its current state.

For the most part, I’m very happy with the inside. I’ve been sharing the interior of my home for years.

It’s the OUTSIDE that has me stumped.

So last summer I finally started to gather ‘big’ quotes on some outdoor improvements to feel it out.

BC box home that requires outside renovations. Part of How much should someone spend on renovating their home? BC box home that requires outside renovations. Part of How much should someone spend on renovating their home?

Above is the current state of the outside of my house.

(after I repainted lower trim)

(and I repainted that one dark window back to the lighter tone again – I’m undecided!)

BC Box House Renovation Concepts \ Part of How much should someone spend renovating their home? By Funky Junk Interiors

When I was obtaining quotes last summer, I drew up these ‘affordable’ concepts.

  • White board and batten hardy board and shiplap combo.
  • Wood or painted trim.
  • Shingles / around the front door.
  • Wood posts.
  • A small peaked roof above front door.

My personal fav is #1 if I were to choose one. Which is yours?

The numbers of course came in large. Pretty large. As in, take out of my savings, burn through investments or take out a new loan. I didn’t like any of those 3 options.

Especially on a home I wasn’t completely committed to.

And everything I REALLY wanted pushed it well beyond market value!

(I apparently have good taste)

After a conversation with my brother on all this, he knocked some sense in to my head.

“Do the renovations for you if that’s what YOU want and since it’s part of your business.

But go in fully knowing you may not get your money out of it if you sell.”

Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?

I also then thought back to a time when I did renovate more freely. It was back when I worked with a handyman carpenter.

I hired him by the hour, and he simply worked on whatever I wanted. And didn’t flinch too much when my ideas became a little ‘over the top’. I respect someone that doesn’t mind going beyond a standard box method!

So… this past week as I glanced up at my chippy trim paint for the millionth time, I decide to bite the bullet and at the very least, paint what trim I could reach.

And what an astounding difference that small move made!

Inspired, I contacted a smaller house painter trade to get a quote to repaint the upper trim.

Which led me to realize, at this stage since I don’t know where I’m going, it would make the most sense to simply fix what’s broke, try and do what I can myself, then hire out easy fixes until I desire and can afford otherwise.

Since home renovations and selling have been such a hot topic in my world over the past couple years, I’d like to share what I’ve learned along the way, along with some of my own opinions on all this…

If you find yourself in a similar situation, I hope some of my triumphs can help guide you…

How much should one spend on home renovations?


Antique bed with wicker baskets on shelves - a wall was removed making this 2 bedroom into 1 room.

Antique bed with wicker baskets on shelves - a wall was removed between two bedrooms with an easy frame, enabling replacing the wall easily.

Guest room renovation series HERE

Are you renovating for yourself?

Where I currently live is MY home. If I want to renovate it, I certainly can! And I have. My crazy crate stairs and turning two bedrooms into one are two examples of breaking standards.

However, to play it a little more safe than possibly sorry, I also did them in such a way where they can be brought back to original condition in an easy way should I decide to sell one day.

Honestly, it’s your home to do as you wish, period. As long as you’re ok with your unique touches possibly rating as a potential downgrade down the road.

  • Keep costs within market value, IF investment is a concern.
  • Do wild card updates with easy ways to change back.
  • Go wild if you can afford it and want it. It IS your home after all!
  • Reno at your own pace. It’s more affordable in bite-ized chunks too.

BC box master bathroom renovation - before

BC box master bathroom renovation - after. Salvaged Farmhouse style with planked ceiling over popcorn, tiled floor, farmhouse window frame. Click for full tutorial.

Salvaged farmhouse bathroom reveal HERE

Are you renovating to sell?

At one point, my last home needed to go on the market, however there were some extensive renovations that needed to be done in hopes of capturing the highest price possible.

I hired a handyman to work along side me by the hour… we did what we had to. Then stopped when the basics were done.

Which is different than HGTV. Pro house flippers will completely gut then renovate so their flip houses capture the highest price possible.

However, I also believe most of those flip houses start as complete dumps at a cheap price so they pretty much have to gut. Most homes people live in decently are not that.

So, if you are renovating to sell, there’s going to be a fine line to reach or you may place your house over the current market value or renovate in a way that is seen as a minus to another. And that is not a good way to resell.

I’ve heard one tell me about how new owners ripped out all the brand new flooring they just put down before they sold. Wouldn’t that just gut you hearing that?

Fact is, it’s my belief most people look at homes with their vision… and are eager to get a good price from you so they can rip it apart and add their own flavour themselves.

For my own master bathroom, it was entirely outdated. So I had assistance with the tub, toilet and hooking up the vanity, however I did all the rest myself, including teaching myself how to tile a floor WITH a pattern, plank a popcorn ceiling, and add farmhouse trim to a window.

I did those things for me. However I feel the classic changes did indeed add a serious upgrade to that bathroom, which will absolutely help sell this home if I choose.

Learn how to professionally edge flowerbeds for outstanding curb appeal when deciding to sell your home.

How to freshen up flowerbeds like a pro HERE

  • Stay within market value.
  • Fix broken stuff first. Or prepare to lower your price.
  • Spurge more-so on kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Update the desperately out-of-date with clean, classic changes.
  • Keep permanent things neutral.
  • Work on curb appeal – repaint chippy trim, clean up the yard, etc.
  • Declutter and clean until it’s spotless, inside and out.

A painted crate stairway that is framed to accept carpet should this BC box home sell.

Crate stairway project HERE

What if you aren’t sure if you want to stay or sell?

This is where I currently am, and struggle with this one all the time. My house is indeed mine, and I like unique touches. But goodness… to drain my savings or take out a loan only to up and sell it for someone else to enjoy instead?!

No… I want to be more sure if I go big coin.

So what I have been doing is fixing what’s broke. Finishing the unfinished. Then anything unique, I leave it in such a way where it’s easy to change. And will hire out if it’s something I can’t do myself but in small chunks at a time.

ie: My crate stairs are ready for carpet, just not by me.

The guest bedroom which is really two bedrooms turned into one is easy to change back with a little drywall added.

  • Get things to sellable condition.
  • Add unique touches or extras if you want them for YOU.
  • Don’t count on an investment return on your chosen extras.
  • Do renos in such a way they are easy to re-do.

BC box kitchen renovation - before

My kitchen renovation series HERE

BC box kitchen renovation - after. Shaker cabinets, industrial metal kitchen island, farmhouse stye. Click to see entire post.

30 min kitchen island revamp HERE

Contractor or trades / handyman?

Trades are in high demand in my area. In fact, I’ve gone the past two years getting guys to come out and take a look in order to quote, only to never receive the quote, nor hear from them ever again. I later found out bigger jobs attracted their attention instead.

I have even tried to get them to quote on less. Same issue. Hot demand and best job will always win.

I finally did get a contractor to pay a visit and quote. The timelines were all over the map with no promises because the work is all contracted out of course.

I’ve since been reaching out to even smaller individual trades direct because my projects aren’t extensive if you break them apart. The first thing I’m asking for now is if they accept small jobs and asking what they ALL do. (some do light carpentry)

However I will admit, I’ve had the greatest amount of luck working with a reasonable handyman carpenter by the hour. I am currently on the lookout for another.

I think which one is right for you is dependent on your experience, how much you are willing to contract yourself, and how much money you wish to save.

For my current kitchen, I was very fortunate to have had volunteers help me dis-mantel my old kitchen, I designed my kitchen myself, then had the cabinet place install them.

  • Get recommendations from friends and other trades you respect.
  • Get various quotes.
  • Get quotes from a contractor AND separate trades.
  • Try a handyman by the hour for lots of small jobs. (I loved this most)
  • Ask about timelines and how payment works.
  • Ask if there’s anything you can do yourself to help cut down costs.
  • If the job is too large or way out of your own expertise, go with a contractor.

White ektorp Ikea sofas in a winter BC box living room with wood oar wall decor

Livingroom tour with white sofas HERE

Where I currently am

I am in the not-sure-if-I’m-staying or not camp.

However I still desire to make upgrades I love to my home.

So after getting large quotes last summer and not even loving the results if I went for them, I decided to back up a little, do what I could to achieve good curb appeal and finish the undone.

Next, I’ll hire out things I can’t accomplish myself, hoping to keep it affordable.

And if I decide to splurge on a big ticket unique item, I fully recognize I do so at my own financial risk. But at least I will be there to enjoy it before it becomes old again!

And if I can get a little out of it, I think that’s further ahead than simply renovating for someone else, don’t you?


I’d love your opinion.

You know where I’m at. And you know what the outside of my house looks like.

What would YOU do with the outside of my home? 

Big or small! I’d love to hear.

Learn how to make a sawhorse pallet wood desk with shiplap oversized OFFICE sign

Visit the rest of my home inside:

White sofa living room

Kitchen with shutters on kitchen island

Blogging office with sawhorse desk

Guest bedroom series with antique bed / sewing table  / rustic shelving

Master bedroom with faux barn door headboard

Master bathroom salvaged farmhouse style

Front entry with quirky ladder shelf 

Paint Studio – one of my most dramatic makeovers to date

Garage Workshop made for free with reclaimed finds

Crate stairway with stencils and acrylic craft paint

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Categories: All Cool Projects, DIY, Junk Drawer

27 thoughts on “How much should one spend on home renovations?

  1. I like the Brick and the Green door. I would put those colors around your windows. Maybe add some Dark Green too.
    Looks like your Black roof needs some more Black paint….

  2. Donna,

    As you said you love your home. I would fix the broken and make the small upgrades. Do what makes you happy in the small upgrades. Think you would be further ahead. Just my opinion.

  3. Hi Donna,
    I’m with you on preferences for the outside. I think, if it’s in your budget at all, I’d go with the #1 drawing. It might be just the thing to set your home apart from the others should you decide to sell and in the mean time, you’d enjoy it.
    I recently sold 3 homes (myself). I had to weigh the cost of the improvements that I wanted and those needed against the, “will I get this money back when I sell?” or was it better to let them go and let someone else dream. In the end, I chose to let them dream and I moved on.
    Now I’m curious as to what big ticket item you’re wanting. hahaha You’re so wonderfully talented. It’s crazy trying to find a committed handyman to see a job to the end. Rarely am I satisfied and think I should have just tried myself. We’re in the same spot when considering staying or selling. Much luck!

    • Thank you!

      EVERYTHING I got quoted for was a big ticket item IMO. The hardy board on the front was thousands. That didn’t even include painting the rest of the house.

      The wood posts were thousands.

      Everything was in the thousands.

      My free trim painting worked out well I think… haha

      I do have some decisions to make!

  4. I am not sure how long I will be in my current house but at least 5 more years. I recently had the laundry room completed. It was the only area in the house that had never been completed. It was concrete floors and 2x4s. It ended up being WAY more than I thought. But I have wanted it since I moved in 12 years ago. I live here now so I want it the way I want it and it made me very happy.

    I did it for me. It will help in the future if I go to sell (though I probably won’t get the full cost out of it). Anyway … I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, so I am enjoying it now 🙂 S

  5. I would stick with just painting the outside of the house. Love the green door and the window boxes. My secret for getting someone to do work on the inside of the house is to do it in winter. More tradesman available. Of course, that doesn’t help if you want the outside of your house painted. Lol.

  6. Since I have been on the fence with my house for as long as you have, I understand your delemma . I can’t seem to find anything I can afford that’s comparable to mine. Yet, I always have the urge to move. After KK’s last class, I have decided to commit and put my house on the market. I am going to take a leap of faith and believe that the right house for me will be available if and when mine sells. I will be doing paint touch-ups and repairs this weekend.

    I would just use the magic of paint on your house . Tastes are so personal, but here is what I would do: I would paint the window and door trim black, i would use a a nice grey on the body including the brick. I would paint the brick columns white and leave the garage door white. White window boxes upstairs would balance the look. I would Use a bright colour on the front door.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Hi Donna,

    Not only do I believe you love your house but also the location (to your bike rides)is especially important to you. Remember all the exceptional advice any realtor can give is still very subjective. Location, location, location is still a real thing, whether it be local school systems, proximity to local parks, shopping, major highways, cities, etc. There are many factors to what a potential buyer is looking for. If you are an investor, flipping houses for a reasonable profit then by all means follow the blank slate, nothing extravagant rules because most everyone is going to make that house their unique own. As a homeowner who lives in your house one of the most important things you can do for resale value is show pride of ownership and upkeep on maintenance. There is so much that can’t be seen with the naked eye and if what can be seen is taken care of then the assumption is, so is what can’t be seen. My suggestion is to make yourself happy in your own home and do the renovations that you will enjoy. I was once told by a very successful investor the value of a property, is how bad you really want it. Sorry I am so long winded. I do hope these do helps.

    Mary Lou

  8. I know exactly where you are, Donna! My husband and I have been renovating homes – ours as well as others – for over twenty years! We’re working on a remodel for our daughter and when that is complete are planning to sell our home and build (I think). We’re close to retirement and have the same thoughts you have about how much is too much, etc. when it comes to renovating and I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here. Because we don’t know exactly when we will sell or move, we’re going to continue living in and loving our home as well as sprucing up where necessary and try not to overdo because we definitely want to regain whatever we spend.

    Like you, I like the first option you selected for your exterior.

  9. Hi Donna:
    We sold last year and I wanted to do all sorts of things to help sell our home, we followed suggestions from our agent, spent minimal money and the home sold in 3 hours. Yes, our tastes are definitely not those of a purchaser!

    I would paint all trim front and back dark, as you have started. The back is a large blank canvas on the right of the picture, so if you can afford it, a peaked roof over the little door would help balance that side with the deck side. Posts and beams could be added to this door cover as well. I would also paint the trim on the deck dark.

    I love view 1 for the front, so again paint all the trim dark, and my thought is under that brick is wood posts or beams that can be closed in with wood to get the look you want in #1, you must favour post and beam style as all 4 views have that, go with it. I think you can do this on your own, start by testing a spot to see how easy the brick comes off and what is underneath, maybe the backside of one current post.

    You love your current home and location, so do the least expensive repairs to make it how you want it. When the time finally comes to sell, eg. when your mind is truly made up, then sell. I love your home and could live there in a heart beat!

  10. I love all of the repurposed things you have done to your home to make it your unique place! I think you should find some old shutters and put them around your windows, painting them in the color you wish to accent or leave in natural state matching your trim. I love the window boxes and think this adds a pop or color! You can make things look awesome, so be creative and you might find this house fits you perfectly and not want to sell!

  11. WOW…what a post!!! You have opened Panora’s Box. But maybe not….I caught your blog years ago and have followed thru the stairs, bathroom, bedroom, boys room, sofa and even the story of your kitchen!

    Now you have an idea to move not move….improve what and how to improve.

    Lots of suggestions, yes on the black trim for the front, fix main roof (not sure if it is leaves or what but take a look at it) bring continuity across the lower front and lumber posts. With the upkeep and redo of the front gardening you have a perfect area to rock away a few moments and enjoy the birds and but butterflies.

    The back you have worked on getting it easier to care for and the shed is so versatile to what you want it to be. I would paint the trim there black also including the fache. The stairs could be redone with a landing…you will find as you get older long sets of stairs are crazy. With a landing it is a break and a safety thing too. AND…AND…if you decide to sell buyers will look at that as not to challenging for the back.

    Bottom line…do your pros on cons and why to sell and stay. Do the little MUST things that are normal wear and tear and safety. Your brother did good on his suggestion.

    Do get it all down on paper or computer and out of your head. But not only are there ideas but also the supplies, time and skill that will be needed do the the dream thing.

    Take it a step at a time…..AND have FUN

  12. You have the Most Amazing house ? I love every bit of your home….? Keep up posting, it’s so inspiring. Thankyou ????

  13. I actually feel your anxiety – I too look at realty nearly every single day and have been looking at homes often in the last year. (Thank goodness one of my dear friends is a realtor so she isn’t feeling used.)

    I have the exterior almost perfect in landscaping, paint, updated lights, etc.

    But I reallllllly want to build a screened porch off the back from the master bedroom. But it is soooo expensive.

    And I really would love to update our kitchen to be a better working place for two cooks – it is just fine, looks decent – put in granite and new back splash when we first moved in – but even that is dated now.

    And our master bath needs renovating – it’s “ok” but the shower needs to be changed for sure – have new faucets on bath and both sinks but not shower cuz I am still waiting.

    Why am I waiting? Cuz I don’t know if I want a huge house with 2 acres anymore. Hubs does, but I don’t. I keep getting quotes to fix how I’d like it and it is laughable how costly it is. So I waft back and forth and do nothing. It is maddening. SO I dream big dreams and keep postponing and I have done it for so long I kinda don’t even want to mess with it anymore – that’s a bad sign.

    I look forward to finding out what you decide to do – my very best wishes, cuz I know it is quite frustrating.

  14. HI Donna,
    I live in Cloverdale. If you want to contact me, your welcome to. Having problems trying to respond on your comments page. We resided last year and I can give you more info regarding siding.

  15. I totally understand on trying to hire someone. We have a two story entryway that needs to be painted. Just trying to get someone to come give a quote. Yes we can do that… never hear from them again. We are now “waiting “ till the guy who said yes he could do it, to come and do it. I am so over the whole thing!

    • I totally get this Marcia… it saves you lots of money, but it doesn’t get the job done! LOL

      You may have the same kind of entry I do. If you have a rail along the top floor that opens up to the staircase, I successfully taped a paint brush to a broom handle, then cut in along the ceiling and corners that way, then a pole on a roller for the rest.

      I seriously waited at least 2 years wondering how I’d do this. Then it just came to me and I did it in 30 minutes. haha

      I hope that fix is something that could work for you!

      • Wow ?. In my younger days I might have tackled that. But at 65 I have put myself into retirement mode of home improvement. ?. My basement was my workshop, routers, saws, wood, tools. I loved building furniture, which seemed to go to both daughters homes. ? Anyway, I really enjoy looking at what you are working on.

  16. I like #1, but with the windowboxes on the upstairs windows. I think your decision should be more about your location, your neighbors and the overall layout of your home. Are you going to want to always have to carry your groceries upstairs like you do now? Do you want a designated shop/studio and a garage? Do you like your proximity to your bike trails as they are now? Do you really enjoy your neighbors? Decorating can all be changed (and blogged about;), I think location, neighbors and overall floor plan are more important than curb appeal. I’d love to move right now to get more space and a better layout for the next 10 years. I want to be able to host family gatherings and friends inside in the winter and are just too tight here. Yes, we’d be sacrificing our perennial gardens and all the rehab we’ve done on our house. But I’m ready to be at the end of a dirt road and off a busy road, even if I have to live with 90’s decorating for awhile. It’s all pros and cons I guess, but definitely worth a list of what you’d like in the next home, and what you like about where you’re at. Think it’s a 50 something issue;)?

  17. I think your house looks beautiful inside and out Donna. It’s “home” with endless possibilities for living and laughing and just being. Looking at the pictures the only thing I would change is enclosing the piece under the stairs outback and adding a door and maybe, just maybe painting all the window trims black to showcase all the beautiful light that must flood inside.

  18. You have done so many neat things to your home over the years. As for the outside, I really like the last one with the flower boxes. It looks very clean and inviting. I still like your green door too that shade is calming…

  19. Really interesting Donna, and a lot of good points. Regarding the ideas you came up with for the outside I also liked number one and number four. We are getting close to having our mortgage paid off in a couple of years, and I find myself toying with the idea of moving. That brings many thoughts to mind of upgrades and fixes. I agree that if changes are to be done, going with classic upgrades is the way to go. I appreciated your analysis of the process. Maybe have you considered going into real estate or home staging or home décor? I know you may not be interested in the home décor because in the past you have done similar in designing window displays in stores. But real estate can be rewarding and you do possess the knack for staging a room. The results are both comforting and relaxing and cohesive, with room to dream. Homes staged as such sell well. Oh well, just thinking. Thanks for the post. I really enjoyed it.

    • Hi Donna, I like all your ideas but I wouldn’t do anything more than paint the exterior, providing everything else is in good shape. Keeping your upgrades simple provides a clean canvas for potential buyers to imagine themselves living there. I’ve been following your blog for a looong time and I honestly think your home is holding you back. You’ve done everything you can with the interior and it looks fabulous. I just feel you need a new challenge; you’ve been feeling the pull of wanting to move for years and now might be the best time while you’re still young and healthy enough to do much of the work yourself. In five or ten years…who knows? Maybe it’s time to test the waters and put your home on the market and listen to the feedback you get. Whatever you decide I wish you well and I will continue to enjoy your blog immensely.

      • Thanks Amy, and I have a hunch you are right. My inner most frequent vision is finding myself standing on a porch overlooking water surrounded by forest. Hmm….

        My story here has felt over for some time, so I’ve been focusing on simply getting the house ‘done’ at this point. I guess we’ll see what transpires…

        • I like #1 plus the window boxes.

          Like you, I was on the fence about moving for a long time. At this point in my life, it would not be an up-size or downsize so essentially it would be a lateral move. I kept my eye on what was on the market but at the end of the day the single biggest reason for staying put was the neighborhood. I knew what I had here and my neighbors are all awesome. Nice, quiet and always willing to help each other out…but never, ever showing up unannounced for coffee, etc. My concern was the unknown and moving to somewhere that had that one hellish neighbor!

          This does not matter to many but it did to me and I know it might to you… was my garden. I have moved a few times in my life and I know that it takes time to “build” a garden. Sometimes years before things become established and I didn’t want to start over again.

          Now if something absolutely perfect were to come on the market and the price was right…..

  20. I just went through the same thing with the exterior of my house. Even contacted an architect and received his quote, which wasn’t too bad. Renovating would take me to a higher price point so I could sell at a larger profit. BUT, it would require draining my savings, and I’d be paying the mortgage and other expenses to live there during renovation, which I have no idea how long would take. So I am sprucing and making it gorgeous the way it is.

    Another tip: ask contractors how they bid jobs. I recently had a quote for a deck resurfacing, which came in high. When I asked, they said it was for 2 men, 3 days. Well, I know the job wouldn’t have taken that long, so I’m going another way. Always try to get the man-hour price.

    Finally, for laughs, check out this piece I wrote about talking back to those HGTV shows that depict the “reality” of renovating and flipping. Enjoy! 🙂

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