The marginal returns on home renovations will decline alongside the popping Canadian housing bubble. In fact, the returns on a lot of these “investments” already fail to cover their costs. Since getting my house, I’ve been looking for low-hanging fruit to increase its comfort level, because I plan to live there for a very long time if not permanently. I’m not looking to dump big money into any overhauls yet. (Although in the next decade I plan to dump $50 or so grand into major work, e.g. a new main floor bathroom, foundation underpinning / basement lowering and subsequently finishing of the basement, as well as a kitchen renovation to take advantage of the huge space.) I already put a chunk of net worth into the house by way of my down payment, and I don’t want to become any less diversified. I’m staging a “low-cost” move, but it’s still really frigging expensive (especially when one includes all the fast food bills). Plus I’ve already had my share of home emergencies that required cash outlays, although I’m almost certain the worst of these is behind us. The first “low-hanging fruit” that I plucked was changing and adding bathroom fixtures. It seems disingenuous to call it a “bathroom reno” but for simplicity let’s stick to that terminology. Just understand it only took a few hours and involved changing a limited number of items.
I targeted two key problems with my mini bathroom reno. First, the bathroom lacked storage. There wasn’t even a towel rack for goodness’ sake. Second, the theme of all its fixtures was real wood. The problem with wood bathroom fixtures, besides the fact that they’re ugly, is that they aren’t sanitary when damaged (specifically the faucet handles which were nasty).
I bought a set of Moen fixtures; a toilet paper holder, towel rack, and a hand towel loop for $24.88 + HST. Here are the old fixtures (left) with their respective replacements (right):
The Moen set didn’t come with a house coat rack. I bought a Moen housecoat rack ($14.98 + HST) from the same line as the other fixtures set and installed it on the door. (The door is hollow, so I was careful to use anchors but that required me to test a billion pilot hole sizes with a bunch of bits until I found the perfect one.) I thought it was useful because it more than doubles the hanging storage. Here it is:
I bought a Glacier Bay shower head and detachable handheld head for $19.99 + HST and replaced the nasty old head:
In keeping with my mission to eliminate tacky, porous wood wherever possible, I bought cheap faucet handles and put them on the existing fixture for $18.98+HST.
The bathroom had a medicine cabinet which was, frankly, disgusting. It hadn’t been cleaned in ages and, even if it wasn’t too small, I still would have removed it (and this is coming from me, the guy who embodies function over form and wore Dollarama sandals all summer). Here’s the new one I bought for $22.98 + tax. There’s a mirror on the front, but I opened it to ensure I wasn’t tempted to take a duck-faced self-shot.
Moving into a new house is hectic. Naturally I forgot to take a picture of my biggest bathroom renovation item: a new shelving unit a few feet above the toilet. You’ll need to settle for a mental picture painted by my limited vocabulary. It’s white with two doors on the front (brushed metal handles) that cover an alcove with two shelves; it also has a shelf at the bottom of the unit that’s not covered. This unit dramatically increases the bathroom’s storage capacity by a factor of infinity, since there is almost no extra floor space for an organizer and the sink is a pedestal. It’s really nice, and better be because I spent $77+HST on it.
In all, I spent $202.06, including taxes, and several hours of my time to complete this mini bathroom reno. I think the increase in usability alone is worth the price tag. If there’s a value deficit, however, I think it’s filled by not having to hear my partner complain about how gross the wood fixtures are.