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Renovating is a journey, and it’s not always the most fun. It’s a process that can sometimes take months and it’s usually filled with a lot of blood, sweat, tears — and worst of all — a lot of dust. But the positive takeaway here is that renovating is always worth it, from the convenience and customization it adds to your home, to the value it gives. It’s common to be unsure about how to start a home renovation, but not to worry — we’ve tapped into the expertise of designers Andrew Pike and Courtney Collins to share their best renovating and remodelling tips.

1. Determine the overall goal for your renovation.

“Identify whether you’re planning to sell your home in a few years or if you’re in it for the long-haul,” says Collins. “If it’s a short-term investment, it may be best to make colour selections for your hard finishes (i.e. your cabinets, countertops and tile) that are more appealing to the masses, and save bolder pops of colour and patterns for items like pillows, artwork, etc.”

2. Consider how much work is being done.

“Renovations can displace you from various rooms in your home for an extended period of time,” says Collins. “Determine whether or not you are able to ‘live through’ the renovation or if you and your family would be better suited to find a temporary place to reside during the bulk of construction. If you plan to stay elsewhere, factor in those costs into your overall budget.”

3. Do your research.

“The lowest quote may not always translate to the least costly project,” adds Collins. “There are so many variables that go into renovating an existing home and many of them are hidden behind the walls. Interview a few companies and determine who you feel is most qualified to help you accomplish your goals.”

4. Identify your design style.

“Take a look at colours and styles to determine what you like. Apps like Pinterest and Houzz can be helpful to focus in on your personal likes and dislikes. For a designer, it’s just as helpful to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do.”

5. Be confident in your selections.

“Every time you change your mind, it can mean time delays and additional costs,” says Pike. “Once you’ve decided on the design plan and put it into production, trust in the vision and stay the course.”

6. Be sure to save some budget for finishing touches that pull a space together.

“If you’re trying to get that magazine ready look for your project, make sure you budget for all the accessories and finishing touches,” adds Pike. “These are the elements that really pull a space together and can add significantly to a budget so be sure to plan for that off the top.” 

7. Find a designer that understands your vision.

“When you’re deciding who to work with on your project, be sure you feel comfortable with your choice of designer and contractor. A renovation is a very personal process and if you have any hesitation working with someone they probably aren’t the right fit for you.”

8. Be realistic.

“Be prepared for a realistic construction schedule,” says Collins. “Even the most well-prepared renovations can hit unexpected road bumps along the way.”

9. Keep in mind that renovating takes time.

As much as we would like you to think that what happens on renovation TV is real, most of it is not,” says Collins. “Kitchens don’t get delivered the next day, and custom counters take time to produce. If something arrives broken, more often than not it takes a while to replace and doesn’t come hours later. There’s a natural process to a renovation, and when something goes wrong (which it always does), it impacts countless other things.”

10. Be prepared for delays and cost overruns.

“Always remember that everything costs more and takes longer, so be prepared for delays and cost overruns,” says Pike. “A normal estimate for this is 10-15% of a budget but we prefer to plan for 20%.”


So, what are you waiting for? Start the year off in a fresh new space that’s designed to your liking. No matter where you’re looking to buy, our design team is happy to help you curate your home. Looking for some inspiration to kickstart the process? Check out our Everyday Beautiful magazine and its complementary interactive experience or learn how you can make better use of spare rooms.

Meet the Designers

Andrew Pike

A nationally recognized designer, host and media personality, Andrew Pike has been in the design community for over twenty years. Andrew’s career has taken him across the world. A five-year stint in Europe, where he worked and traveled, allowed him to develop an appreciation for the way rich history and stunning architecture can create a unique experience at every turn. The classic way Europe blends modern style with ornate, antique structures is an influence we see time and time again with Andrew’s designs. Upon returning to Toronto, he began working as an interior designer and has worked on many of Empire’s model homes since.

Courtney Collins

Courtney Collins has been in the design field for almost 15 years and has been recognized nationally as part of the NKBA “30 Under 30” and Remodeling Magazines “40 Under 40” programs. She began her career in the remodeling world specializing in kitchen and bath design before eventually finding her home at Empire for the last 6+ years. Beginning her time at Empire as a Senior Designer, she now oversees the Design department for the Atlanta division. Her focus is on maintaining a high level of design in both the hard finishes offered to our home buyers as well as the furniture and accessories in our model homes which are all designed in-house.



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Nicole and Karla

New Home Specialists


Nicole and Karla

New Home Specialists


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