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Home Renovation Tips with Love It or List It Vancouver’s Jillian Harris and Todd Talbot

Todd Talbot and Jillian Harris, hosts of W Network’s Love It or List It Vancouver, share renovation tips and strategies for designing a home you’ll love.
Photo Credit: Milner, Jive Communications

Update: The Edmonton Home Renovation 2013 show has ended, but Harris and Talbot’s tips are great guides for tackling home renovation projects any time of year!

Perhaps it’s a New Year’s resolution of yours to finally tackle that big renovation project you’ve been putting off, or maybe you’re wanting to freshen up a space in your home. Whatever the case, the Edmonton Home Renovation Show is the place to go to follow through with your plans for building, renovating, or changing up your home and garden decor. A wide variety of products, services, and contractors will be available, and there will be design presentations from industry experts, including Jim Caruk (contractor, DeWalt ambassador, host of Builder Boss)  and John Sillaots (renovation specialist, host of In the Workshop).

Not sure where to begin your renovation plans? Where Edmonton had the opportunity to talk with Jillian Harris (Designer: Extreme Makeover: Home EditionCanada’s Handyman Challenge) and Todd Talbot (Realtor: founder of myRealDESIGN.com) about their new show Love It or List It Vancouver and home design. Harris, who currently resides in Kelowna, British Columbia but is from Peace River, Alberta (“can you put in your notes that I say “Hi” to everyone in Alberta?!” she exclaims), says that Edmonton is a great place to design a “dream space” because real estate is less expensive (than in Vancouver) and so you can put more money into renovations and design elements.

“You spend most of your time in your home,” Talbot says, “so you want to make the space a place that you love and that you want to come home to, where you actually enjoy spending time.” So, when should you renovate and when should you sell and start over? Though the two compete on the show, they say the concept is really about considering options for obtaining a place you love and that both strategies are good ones, just appropriate at different times.

“Some people just have an attachment to their homes or community and do not want to move,” Jillian says, “and in that case you have to make your home work for you; renovations can help you achieve the look you want. Other times people are just over their home or want to upgrade, and in that case it’s just better to sell and look for something new.” Talbot adds that travel time between work and home should be a factor: “If you don’t like having a long commute, then no renovation project is going to change that. Likewise, if you bought your home thinking you would have a family of four and then you ultimately have a family of six, suddenly you have a square footage issue and it just makes more sense to sell and move than to renovate.”

Look for renovation products and services at the Edmonton Home Renovation Show, Jan 25 – 27.
Photo courtesy of Edmonton Home Renovation Show and showswork

Here are some of Jillian and Todd’s tips for tackling home renovations:

1. Plan: Harris says that people put off renovations – even small projects like hanging up artwork – because they haven’t planned out the overall look they are trying to accomplish and get deterred from starting, to the point where numerous projects pile up. “There are so many great resources for design inspiration like Pinterest and home design television shows,” “Jillian says. “Use these to get a vision and decide on the exact look you’re trying to achieve, so when you start to invest in changes and updates, everything you buy will contribute towards that ‘look’. Don’t just go to Home Depot and try to decide on paint colours there”.

2. Make Good Renovation Investments: Harris cautions people to avoid trends in colours, and suggests you can’t go wrong with sticking to neutral colours and pastels: “When I first got into design, I would use orange and green paint all the time,” Harris laughs, “and now I think white and cream are the most awesome colours. They give any room a classic look, and won’t become outdated. Stick to simple styles for structural elements – walls, cupboards, countertops, flooring – and have fun with room accents like artwork, pillows, and curtains, that you can change easily and more cheaply.”

Talbot adds that when you are trying to sell your home, you want to appeal to the greatest number of buyers, and using bold coloured paint or wallpaper might deter some people. He agrees with Harris that structural elements should be kept simple, and people can have fun with decor, art, and furniture to spruce up a room. “That said,” Harris adds, “you’re trying to create a space that will make your heart tick, you’re not trying to win a design award. So if you’re a wild and crazy person, go for it: express those traits in your design.”

3. Quick/Inexpensive Design Tips: If you don’t have the money to do a complete home renovation, Harris and Talbot suggest tackling some small projects can make a big difference. “Kitchen or bathroom renovations can be very expensive; painting is a relatively inexpensive project – especially if you do it yourself  – that completely refreshes a space and makes it seem more updated and modern,” Talbot says. “Investing in storage solutions and organizing your clutter is a good way to make a room look sleeker,” Jillian adds.

If you can afford one big project but aren’t sure where to invest your money, Talbot recommends buying good quality (moderate to high priced) hardwood – not laminate – flooring. “The first thing people notice when shopping for a new home is the flooring,” Talbot advises, “so not only will it update the look of your space but it will eventually yield a high return on investment. Get rid of carpet! Get rid of cracked, stained linoleum.”

If you are looking to sell your home and don’t want to put a lot of money in to renovating it, Jillian says that the look of a space can be improved immensely by simple fixes like cleaning and removing clutter and personal artefacts from a space before showing your home. “People underestimate the power of cleaning products and dusting!” Jillian exclaims. “And potential buyers want to imagine themselves in the new space, which is easiest with an open, fairly empty space.”

4. Return on Investment: If you want to renovate your home but know that you are likely to eventually sell it, Talbot suggests spending your money on kitchen and bathroom renovations. He says these are two rooms which get noticed first by new buyers, and any renovations here will certainly increase the value of the home.

5. Don’t Get Discouraged: Harris indicated that it takes about six weeks to complete a home renovation on Love It or List It, but that all of the projects done each episode would typically take about six months to complete: “we work with a huge team of contractors, builders, and designers to really blitz the project for ‘TV time’, and so we have more people involved than you typically would if you were doing home renovations on your own”. Thus, don’t get discouraged if your renovation projects are taking awhile to complete  – if you’re planning on living in your home for a long time, the time invested in turning it into a pleasant space will be well worth it!

Watch Jillian and Todd host Love It or List It Vancouver on W Network, Mondays at 10 pm EST/PST.

Breanna Mroczek


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