Renovation transformation | Toronto Sun

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Makeover reflects homeowner’s life changes

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For the owner of a traditional ’70s house, significant life changes inspired her to tackle significant changes to her Halton Hills home.

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“The renovation was a metaphor for the next stage in her life: retirement, divorce and successful sale of her business,” says Frankie Castro, creative director of Square Footage, a kitchen and bathroom renovation company based in Ajax. “The future looked buoyant, bright and full of possibilities. The renovation needed to reflect those life changes.”

Three of the homeowner’s four children had moved out and were married with children of their own. Her must-haves included plenty of light and a casual, well-curated, livable space that reflected a changing family as well as her personality.

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The house was constructed in the 1970s and was last renovated 25 years ago. “How we live now is quite different from the ’70s. The entire house needed to be reimagined,” Castro said.

She suggested relocating the kitchen to one side of the house, removing almost all the walls on the main floor, redesigning the stairs, removing an unused and oversized fireplace, and renovating the laundry room and adding a shower for the family pooch.

On the second floor, a bedroom was converted into a luxe dressing room. Each of the bathrooms was renovated. “Basically, no walls were untouched,” she says of the 10-month renovation, during which the client moved into a long-term vacation rental.

Before tackling a renovation, Castro recommended getting a tailored design and scope of work and a realistic budget estimate. “All clients want the same things in any renovation: good materials at the lowest price and the job to be completed quickly,” says Castro. Her designs feature an understated aesthetic influenced by contemporary design.

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She encourages clients to prioritize their competing wants. “Decide on what is most important for your renovation. Good materials cost more, so the renovation will not be a budget project. Good work takes time, so the job will take longer. Finally, work with a designer specializing in the specific renovation you want.”

Like any renovation, the Halton Hills home presented several challenges, but Castro’s ‘glass is half full’ personality served her well. “When you have a great client, a professional general contractor and a construction team who have worked together for a long time, all challenges are surmountable,” he says.

“I am about how you and your team solve the challenges. It’s about something other than the problems you will find. Expect to find them and offer solutions.”

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Thankfully, Castro had a healthy continency fund that amounted to 20 per cent of the project’s budget and used every cent. “Some of the things the contingency fund covered are what I refer to as ‘scope creep’ – add-ons as the project progresses.”

The house was surrounded by overgrown hedges that blocked both light and the view and needed to be removed, so landscaping was added, for instance. Though Castro accounted for new doors and windows, the garage door looked old and tired and needed to be replaced.

Castro was proud of the renovation, which met the client’s desire for a bright, light-filled space. Relocating the kitchen dramatically improved the entire layout of the house, resulting in a dream kitchen that’s become the heart of the home. The reflective face of the cast iron tub and arched wall in the ensuite bathroom are among the designer’s favorite features.

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A bold and modern staircase was central to the renovation and anchored the fresh new space. The suspended and rotating gas fireplace is also wow worthy. “I felt the living room’s corner needed a special touch,” said Castro. “It feels like a real fireplace without the hassle of a wood-burning fireplace.

An additional benefit is the fire is also at eye level. It is a vintage design from 1967 reimagined for today’s lifestyle.” The homeowner’s reaction to the big reveal? “Wow, I live here.”

“It’s a big moment when you decide to renovate,” says Castro. “Big or small, renovations can be stressful. We take pride in our designs, quality of construction and, most importantly, client satisfaction. We treat every client’s needs uniquely and respect their homes as if they were our own. The renovations made her home comfortable and reflected the client’s style and could increase her home’s value. It’s precisely the reaction we hope for. It feels good when a job is well done.”

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