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TV Host Chip Wade on Saving Money During Home Renovations

Photo: Courtesy of Wade Works Creative

This year, many families have been confined to their homes, and renovation trends have shifted to accommodate. Chip Wade, the television home renovator from the shows “Elbow Room” and “Wise Buys,” sees functional spaces like home gyms and offices becoming more popular, for instance.

“These are gaining a lot more traction right now because there is an increasing need for families,” Wade said. “Families are getting a better sense of how they are using their space when they’re spending more time in it.”

Evaluate your home

Wade recommends starting with a space audit. “A space audit is a tabulation of how much time you spend in every room of the house,” Wade says. “If there’s a room you haven’t used in a number of days, it’s highly likely that room could be a spot for repurposing. These are often unorthodox rooms. Duplicate living rooms — where there is a formal living room and a less formal living room — are really common. Even additional bedrooms are a great source for things like a home gym.”

When repurposing a room, Wade suggests starting small. “Buying the most expensive all-in-one piece of home gym equipment maybe isn’t the smartest thing to do when you’re just setting out,” he says. 

Functions over aesthetics 

Wade’s philosophy is renovating for function over aesthetics, especially when considering kitchens and bathrooms. “The thing is to understand what makes a difference for you in your space, and then spending most of your money on that. Making it look good is the easy part. But making it function so that you love it before making it look good is the part that most everyone skips over.”

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Wade sees people throwing money away on kitchens they’ll never use. “Everybody wants that look of the chef’s kitchen, but a lot of people don’t cook that much at the house,” Wade says. Another common waste of money is in cabinetry. “When buying incredibly expensive cabinetry and furniture, you’re basically going to be hogtied to it for the rest of your life,” he says. “Never decorate with cabinets. It’s the most expensive thing you will ever do.”

The best advice to avoid these money-wasting renovations is to work with a designer, Wade recommends. “People think they want to keep all the money set aside for a project for construction, and they don’t value the cost of not just design, but great design,” he says. “Great design should always end up paying for itself, and it should be cost evaluated prior to ever calling a contractor. If your first call is to a contractor, you’re losing. You need to have someone that understands the aesthetics, the architecture, and the construction at the inception.”

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