Give Me Back My Five Bucks

The cost of renovations (plus photos!)

Well, I was going to wait to post photos. I wanted my place to be fully furnished and completely settled in. But I feel like it’s going to take months for me to finally be happy with how the place looks. So instead, you’re going to get partially furnished pictures, some boxes, and no photos/art/decorations on the walls. Oh, and ugly curtains. They will get replaced sometime soon. Just use your imagination. :)

As for the renovations themselves, the total cost was $3,780 – way under my initial prediction/budget of $4,500. This included all new flooring throughout (removing ceramic tile, laminate and carpet), ripping out a built-in desk, a bit of re-wiring, re-caulking the tub, and painting the entire townhouse. For me, having to pay under $3,800 for everything that I got done was totally worth it to me.

My place looks a million times better (at least in my opinion), and is way more functional. Although to be fair, the place showed well to begin with. It wasn’t that tragic, and I could have lived without any of the renovations, but I’m much happier now in the space now that it’s all been done.

Here are some before shots of my place (the previous owners took them):

And now, here are the photos after my renovations:

So obviously a lot still needs to get done. I need a bed, and that weird nook in the bedroom with the boxes will eventually be my desk area. At first, I was completely against the bedroom – and it was one of the main reasons I didn’t even want to see the unit. But the weird angled wall in the bedroom actually doesn’t look bad in real life, and that nook is a lot bigger in person. For someone like me, who is so obsessed with having everything align properly and square, I’m surprised that I like it.

I also need some sort of shelving unit in the space where that built-in desk used to be. I was thinking a more functional built-in, but that will be really costly. And later on down the road, I would like to completely redo the kitchen and the washroom. But until that time, it will do. Neither is completely hideous. There is also a big storage room behind the door in the kitchen. That’s where all of my hiking gear, bicycle, and pantry are at the moment.

Hope you had fun touring my place! :) Any questions?

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. CanadianSaver says:

    I love the new place pics!! It looks like the perfect spot for a young professional :-) Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. tasmanianminimalist says:

    Stunning. Love it all !

  3. Laina says:

    Looks good, congratulations!

  4. addvodka says:

    I love the new flooring, it looks great!
    My recent post Why it’s awesome to use your credit card for everthing

  5. OCDaniela says:

    Your new floors are great! Is it real hardwood? I have laminate in my living area and I would love to replace it. Seems like you got an awesome deal for all the improvements! Nice work.

    • gmbmfb says:

      Nope, I got laminate because hardwood was expensive and I didn't think it was worth it. Instead, I got really thick, high quality laminate which cost about $2/ft. (including the padding underneath, whatever it's called).

  6. Mercedes says:

    Looks really nice! I like the flooring as well. It's a really pretty color. Getting rid of that built in desk was a great Idea. I think it looks a lot better without it!
    My recent post Guest Bathroom Progress!

  7. munchkin says:

    wow i like your place!! it seems like there is a lot of nature around you? Looks beautiful!
    My recent post Estee Lauder Warehouse Sale

  8. Vir says:

    Very nice! I like the look of the laminate floors.
    Is that a crib in one of your photos, or something else??

  9. Mike Holman says:

    Looks like a great spot!

    If you are taking indoor pictures during the day, you should force the flash – otherwise the pics can end up being pretty dark. Alternatively, taking pics at night will also work better. The natural light coming in the window messes everything up. :)
    My recent post How To Make A Guaranteed 20 Return In Your RESP

  10. Corina says:

    It looks good already! You did a very good job so far.
    How do you think it will affect you in your future relationships? you think it will be ok if somebody moves in with you ? you will think less of a person who isn't so put together as you?:-) it's just that it seems you made so much progress after you broke up with the BF that it feels he was holding you back…

    • gmbmfb says:

      If I do end up finding someone that I would want to live with, the place is big enough. But honestly I can't think about future relationships like that. I'll deal with it if/when the time comes, but in the meantime I have to take care of myself. :) I also don't think BF was holding me back. I just don't think we would ever get to the point where we'd be on the same page.

  11. Dani @ OK, Dani says:

    Looks GREAT!! What is that paint color in the livingroom/kitchen?
    My recent post Shopping Ban Part Deux – June to November

  12. gmbmfb says:

    I hate flash, so I try to use it as little as possible. But agreed, I should have shut the curtains. haha :)

  13. Freckles says:

    1. Is that a Flames jersey I see in your closet?
    2. What is the sq footage of your place? (Apologies if you've already written that in a previous post)
    3. Is there a basement and/or upstairs? (Ditto)
    4. Is there just the one bathroom, it looks like it's only accessible by the bedroom? (Ditto)

    Flooring looks fabulous!

  14. supermomboots says:

    Looks great! Love the deck, so pretty.

    Funny story. When your post opened I was like "Oooo, pictures!" and scrolled right down without reading any text. And then I was all "What!! She is pregnant?!?! Shouldn't there be a post about budgeting for this!!" And then 3 seconds later I realized they were before pictures and felt silly :P
    My recent post The Great Vaseline Incident of 2011

    • gmbmfb says:

      lol you're the second person to mention the crib. Don't worry. If I were actually pregnant, I would definitely be blogging about it. :)

  15. gmbmfb says:

    1. Yes that is totally a Flames jersey. In fact, I have two! :p
    2. It's just under 700 sq. ft.
    3. There is no upstairs or basement, but I do have a crawlspace that spans the length of the townhouse
    4. There is just one bathroom, and it's accessible by the walk-through closet, as well as off the kitchen (there are 2 doors)

    Thanks! :)

    • Freckles again says:

      Gotta love the 'no stairs' part of it. I am in a very narrow townhouse with stairs going up to the bedroom … and stairs going down to the basement to do laundry. My poor knees. Do you have laundry facilities in the townhouse?

  16. Money Rabbit says:

    WOW!!!! BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Congratulations, you wonderful lady!!!
    My recent post Mission Parking- Possible

  17. Financial Uproar says:

    Nice house. When do I get to come over? :)
    My recent post An Update On Nokia

  18. gmbmfb says:

    Yep I've got stackable washer and dryer in the small hallway that connects the washroom with the kitchen. :) That was one of my #1 must-haves when looking at places: in-suite laundry.

  19. chipsforsupper says:

    What's the purpose of the angled wall in the bedroom?
    My recent post Random Ramblings While…

  20. Erica says:

    wow, it looks great and under budget too!

  21. Rafiki says:

    From what it looks like, it seems like you got an awesome deal on renovations. The place looks fantastic.
    My recent post The Wedding Plan

  22. mindless k. says:

    You're apartment looks wonderful! The pain colours are so refreshing and calming. I do have a suggestion – if you don't want to invest in a fancy bed frame with backboard, you could get a basic metal frame from Sleep Country Canada for about $40. It's totally functional and keeps your bed off the ground. You could also go DIY and make your own headboard.
    My recent post Plant Happiness

    • gmbmfb says:

      Good suggestion! I might check that option out, except I think I'd have to get a box spring if I wanted just a metal frame? I'll have to do some research.

  23. Rhona says:

    Your house is really nice. Good work. I love the stones on the outside. r
    My recent post Best dream ever! Germany

  24. Random_thoughts says:

    You have a Carrie closet! (from Sex and the City) It's a great place and I'm totally envious… We don't have *anything* like that in Montreal

    • gmbmfb says:

      Yeah, a Carrie closet, but without the designer clothing and tens of thousands of dollars worth of shoes! LOL! But really the walk through closet was a huge selling point for me. :)

  25. saro says:

    I love the new flooring. It really makes a difference. So pretty.

  26. Kay says:

    Yayyyyy!!! The place looks GREAT!!!

    Don't worry about not-all-furniture part. Teh house will grow with you and you will grow with the house. It's a great journey.
    My recent post The end in sight

  27. Happy Homeowner says:

    Love the floors!! Congrats again; enjoy the homeownership ride :)
    My recent post No-Spend Weekdays-Minimal-Spend Weekends

  28. Darrell says:

    Wow, amazing job! How did you get all that work done so cheap, especially in the Vancouver area? Did you lay the floors yourself?

  29. Byrocat says:

    Great digs! Concentrate on the important bits right now and then worry about getting fancy later.

    Putting in a new desk may require a return visit from your carpenter, unless you're handy (in the Mr. FixIt sense and not Home Improvements or Red Green). My office desk is simply a furniture-grade plywood sheet, cut to shape and using angle-brackets to support it, covered with Varathane after applying stain. Filing draweres were Ikea R2D2 (rolling file cabinet) units that slide underneath.

    Also, the Ikea Sten shelving units make for great storage and can be used to create a desk in a pinch — had a contract in another city that required me to live in a basement apartment for six months — Ikea and Sleep Country got a lot of business from me for that job.
    My recent post Getting the Christmas Bonus

  30. Ban Clothing says:

    I would hate the angled wall! I can't wait to see what you do with your desk area to make it functional. Taking the built in desk out was a fantastic idea… not sure why anyone would find it convenient working there. I would put in floor to ceiling shelving with or without doors for added storage. I find an apartment can never have too much storage.
    My recent post Emergency Sewing Projects

  31. Jana says:

    Your place looks great! We got our place 3 years ago and slowly we are working on it, to make it completly ours. Did you use just one company to do the renos? Do you mind sharing the name? We would like to get a quote from them on a couple of things. Thanks in advance!

  32. bswym08 says:

    I love the new flooring! You did a great job at new place!
    My recent post REVIEW OF 2011 GOALS

  33. Kim says:

    Those floors really make it! Good choice! For the weird nook in the bedroom, maybe a padded bench could work? To sit & look outside, read, or throw clothes on?!

  34. gmbmfb says:

    I think the nook in the bedroom is going to be where I put my desk. I don't like the idea of just having my laptop wherever. I need a dedicated space to write. And since I don't have a second bedroom, the weird nook will have to do! :)

  35. Love the new place!

    I can't wait til I move out =)
    My recent post Better Late Than Never

  36. gmbmfb says:

    I thought I would hate the angled wall as well. At first, it really bothered me. But now I find it kind of quirky and interesting. Also, yeah that built-in desk was awful and so inconveniently placed. I'd like to put a custom shelving unit in that space, but I think that might be a bit expensive. So perhaps I'll have to check out IKEA again. :)

  37. Rubee says:

    I love the new floor!! It's a beautiful apartment!
    My recent post Working for the Man

  38. bswym08 says:

    I love the new look! Totally Awesome. I am just curious about one thing… how come you have a baby bed in your room?
    My recent post Happy Canada Day!

    • gmbmfb says:

      LOL the "before" photos were from the previous owners who had a baby. You can be assured that I do not have a baby, nor will I have a baby anytime in the near future. And if I do ever have a baby, I'd probably blog about it hahaha :)

  39. Jaime says:

    It looks amazing and $3k is very low for renovations. Good for you for doing such an amazing job in a very affordable way. A lot of people overspend on renovations. Good for you. =)

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