The Renovation Dilemma


One of’s special strengths is assisting homeowners assess the extent of upgrades, renovations, and/or styling they might want to execute in advance of coming to market for sale. After all, every property has its own unique set of circumstances that will determine the right enhancement to achieve the highest return on investment in the least amount of time.

This week I met with a couple who live in a spacious older high-end condo of around 2000 square feet. Situated in a desirable central location in a luxe 25 year old building, their 3 bedroom 2.5 bath suite with double exposure is brimming with a lot of high-end original features like stone floors in the entertainment zone, travertine tiled washrooms, and an abundance of over-sized recessed potlights that were all the rage in 1986. The price to acquire this suite in ‘as-is condition’ is debatable, but would range anywhere between $900,000 towards $1million depending on the how well the suite ultimately presents.

These Sellers are both astute and willing to invest a sizable sum renovating their suite to attract a buyer. In fact, they’re prepared to do a substantial remodel to the tune of $100,000 if necessary. For that budget they’d be looking to renovate two of the washrooms, replace the stone floors, renovate the irregular shaped eat-in galley kitchen into an open concept gourmet ‘chef’s kitchen’ so that the entertainment space presents modern and contemporary. Their objective isn’t so much with the intention of profiting on the renovation as much as securing a buyer. In a complex with common fees exceeding $2000 per month, and where suites take four to six months to sell, they know their future buyer is affluent, well-informed, and particular. has seen this situation before, and will admit the situation makes for a bit of a conundrum. First, this unit is likely going to attract a buyer who is wealthy enough not to feel the least bit overwhelmed by the substantial common fee. While there are younger professionals who qualify in this snack bracket and expense, the chances are more likely that the Buyer will be a Boomer or a Zoomer who is non-plussed ponying up for a condominium loaded with amenities, services and associated common fees to boot.

Speaking to the 30 and 40-something professional market is easier than Boomers and Zoomers. For one, they’re well-versed on current trends and styles. They collectively love open concept kitchens, huge islands, ‘chef’s appliances’, stone counters and wood floors. Open any copy of ‘Elle Decor’ or ‘Canadian House and Home’ and chances are there will be a featured space that appeals to them. To contrast, while there are plenty of Boomers and Zoomers who also find that look appealing, there are a whole bunch of them who still lean to a more traditional level of taste. Many of them prefer their kitchen to be a separate room rather than open to the entertainment zone. Not only do they subscribe to the belief that no one wants to look at dirty dishes and cooking pots while dining, but when hosting parties with caterers and servers, they want them to remain out of sight as much as possible. Those glamorous open concept kitchens we see in contemporary condos keep everyone and everything on display. This isn’t always a good thing.

At the end of the day, Boomers and Zoomer prefer understated elegance to conspicuous bling, appreciate ‘function’ over ‘showcase’, and are more likely to avoid trendy trappings when it comes to domesticity. In fact, these generations are more likely to communicate their level of taste through the art collection hanging on the walls, the antique furnishings sitting on their floors, and the fine cut of tailored cloth covering their bodies.

So what to do?

Rather than gut this galley eat-in kitchen into an open concept chef’s kitchen with massive island (thereby necessitating changing about 1200 square feet of flooring in the kitchen and entertainment area), urbaneer recommends keeping it simple and cosmetic. First, lose the over-sized fridge, the laminate counters, the dated double sink / faucet, and the ubiquitous white walls. For a modest $10,000 a slimmer stainless steel fridge will give a clean-lined look, warm neutral-flecked caesarstone counters will add some elegance and complement the existing tumbled-marble backsplash, and a new deep stainless steel sink with modern faucet will capture the attention of those who love to cook. Painting the kitchen walls a warm grey similar to the floor tile grout will eliminate what feels too utilitarian a space while infusing an ‘Art-Gallery’ feel, while adding a long earth-toned custom runner will warm up the space and elongate the kitchen to visually reinforce the abundance of counter space. also made a few more recommendations for the rest of the suite to elevate its resale appeal. Along with paring down the mismatched albeit comfortable furnishings, the eclectic art collection (spectacular in its own right but lacking visual cohesion), and the ubiquitous white walls, we suggested paintings the walls a colour palette of softer earthy shades that will complement the existing stone floors. We’d also execute one of’s Style Enhancements by adding some stylish contemporary furniture to their existing mix so the space appeals to a broader target market. We think the oversized recessed pot lights with enviro-friendly fluorescent pigtails need to be replaced with halogen spots on dimmer switches to create a contemporary mood, in addition to replacing all the standard white electrical outlet covers and switch plates with new brushed nickel to provide a hint of bling without offending those Boomers and Zoomers. This further investment of around $10,000 could make this property achieve a higher return on investment, and assure as quick a sale than if executing the proposed $100,000 renovation.

Will the Sellers follow our advice?

This guidance exemplifies what is all about. Our free ‘no pressure no hassle’ consultation offers insight to Sellers keen to understand ways they might elevate their property to appeal to their specific target markets.

It’s what we do.

It’s what we love.

If you, or someone you know, might benefit from our free personalized service, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

~ Steven  

Real Estate
Style Enhancement Staging

Previous Post
Whaddup With Da Market?
Next Post
January 2012 Home Of The Month – Yonge & Davisville