Airbnb Apartment

Airbnb Apartment

This post is a journey through our last 3+ months renovating our attached apartment with Airbnb potential. The renovation includes a new Ikea kitchen and lots of paint and, of course, all DIY!

About 4 years ago I found myself scouring MLS and I had found our house. It was priced well over our limit and needed quite a bit of work. Derrick refused to waste the realtors time so I stuck a picture of it on my fridge and that was that. Fast forward 3 months and I stood shocked staring at the MLS listing of our house $50 000 less than what they had been asking! It was now in our price range and Derrick was willing to take a look. Funny thing is after looking at the house I had some hesitancy about it’s main floor living space. The kitchen, dining, and living room space was smaller than what we had and I wasn’t so sure anymore if I could give up my brand new renovated house for that. Derrick assured me it was fine and reminded me of all this property had to offer. A couple acres, close to town, on the river what more could you ask for?! An apartment. Yup that’s right a source of income built right into our home! He was right. I knew that I could make the space work for our family and that this was a beautiful opportunity!

When we got possession of the house we moved in and my soon to be married sister moved into our two bedroom main floor apartment. A few years later and my sister and her husband were expecting their second child and knew it was time to find a place of their own. I had also been planning a main floor renovation that included taking one of the apartment bedrooms. So here begins the story of our renovation of the apartment…

I helped my sister and her family move out and before they even had the last of their boxes on the truck we were busting down walls!

The family all ready and excited to tear down that wall. A side note: Another one of my sister’s had just gotten married and my husband likes to look his best for the wedding pictures (hence the handle bars)!

These kids are great helpers and they work for next to nothing! I highly reccommend getting some of your own if you don’t already have a few! Most of this space you can see in the pictures above had been part of the apartment but is now part of the main house. And yes 6 months later it still looks like this, but there is sacrifice when you are DIYer’s and your husband works full time and you have four beautiful children that don’t always want to spend their weekends and holidays playing fixer upper! We decided it made financial sense to renovate the apartment first.


Where to start…while my husband was ripping up hardwood flooring in the old apartment bedroom to recycle for the new apartment kitchen floor. I got busy in the bathroom.

We had decided to try and use the tiles that were already in the shower and regrout as a money saver. After trying several ineffective methods I quickly found that my grout lines were thick enough and ran in a straight line so I could use an angle grinder to rip out the grout. Sparks were flying and little burn marks would sometimes appear on the tile if I got too close. I was okay with that, because I was planning on using black grout so you wouldn’t notice. It got the job done quick and while I was doing it I became more and more attached to these tiles.

Me cleaning out the mildew and yellowing grout with an angle grinder!

The only reason we were able to make these tiles work in the new remodel was because they were standard white tiles with no added detail that surely would have dated the surround. I had been slightly disappointed that they were square and not rectangle subway tile but as I kept grinding away I began to fall in love with them just the way they were…and then when I was 100% completely done cleaning out the grout we discovered that the tiler before us had not installed the tiles to cement board. The drywall behind was rotting in some spots. That is when my husband told me to rip it out! I know I had said the angle grinder had sped things up, but it had still taken hours and hours! To say I was disappointed is an understatement. But such is life and I moved on. After having spent all that time with those tiles wouldn’t you know I went out and bought the exact same ones!

Yes we painted it black! eek! At first it was just black no straps and I wasn’t too sure, but then I decided to add the battens and it really helped to give it a more finished look. It was hard to get a picture that showed the true colour of the black. It is colour matched to Kendall Charcoal.

Also, a slightly disappointing side note. We had opted for leaving the basic plumbing all in the same place. Generally, I would not have put the toilet directly in front of the door, but I knew changing the whole layout was not going to fly. As a kid, I can remember being on the toilet and wanting to still be part of the conversation and this bathroom is ideal for that!

It was not until the painting stage that my husband informed me that the toilet was not centered under the window. I could not believe we had missed that! Does it bother me? Absolutely! It makes it even worse knowing that Derrick had ripped out most of the plumbing anyway and it would not have been a big deal to move it over. I won’t sweat the small stuff though.


Boy these headings make everything look all neat and orderly when in fact most rooms were being worked on simultaneaously and we definately were sanding the floors before paint was going up…or at least I made sure the paint was dry before sanding the floors!

My husband wanted to keep the floors the way they were but, naturally, I wanted to use a sander! Since I was the one doing the work he gave the go ahead. It was my first time using a drum sander. My first trip to Home Depot they sent me home with a big square sander. I set it all up and started the process and it was SSSLLLOOOWWWW! I had planned on this project taking just over a day to sand the floors but it was going to take at least a week. I went straight to the internet and researched what other people used and soon discovered that what I had originally wanted was the tool I needed. I switched out the square sander for a drum sander and I was on my way! Careful not to stop along the way with the drum spinning! It is not perfect, but I am not a perfectionist. I really like how they turned out. I am a sucker for natural wood typically so once the red oak was sanded I decide to clear coat with a matte finish by Sansin.

Another dilemma we faced was that we did not have enough extra hardwood from the old bedroom for the kitchen. My husband works at a mill so he was going to source wood and match it as best he could. While I was at Home Depot I ‘thought’ I came across the same floor that we needed. It would save time and it could be done that weekend so we bought it. We laid out the new flooring and it looked exactly the same, both that ugly orange! So, I took out the sander and began stripping away all the stain and wouldn’t you know the new floor turned out to be white oak instead of red! Of course Derrick did not intermix the new wood because we had already layed down the other flooring. Ahhh! I love white oak but not so much when I thought it was red oak and paired it with my red oak floor. I now have roughly 60 sq feet of natural white oak. So, what did I do about it? Nothing. At first it was really obvious but now with the table in there (and the fact we don’t live there!) it is fine.


The bedroom was one of the first rooms to be complete. We added battens to the wall with the head board and painted the walls Quilted by Beauti-Tone. I thought I had used this colour in our master bedroom but it was not the same. Perhaps I colour matched my master bedroom but it has a slightly warmer feel. Another difference is that the apartment bedroom is on the north east side of the house and the sun has to shine through lots of trees so the room has a cooler feel to it. I would have preferred something slightly warmer, a little less blue, maybe some yellow or green to create a warmer blue. Actually, I like the colour it was before, but we could not remember what it was. I am very bad at documenting what paint colour I use where. Again, we were on a budget and I can only tolerate so many head shakes from my husband so I left it!

The sister above is the one who is moving into the newly renovated apartment. We tackled this wall together. Many years ago my mother in law created a wall like this in her master bedroom and it absolutely transformed the room without having to break the bank. I love shiplap but the battens look fabulous too and it was a job that I could do totally on my own.

Although this room was the easiest here is a list of all we did. *Puttied holes in drywall and ceiling, sanded drywall spots, created feature wall, painted walls, painted doors white, spray painted registers and electric plate covers ( we only painted the plates black because the plugs were already black), switched out potlights for leds with updated trim, hung curtains, refinished two side tables and a dresser, sanded and varathaned floors, and new baseboard trim.* Even this room had its long list of things to get done!

View of the bedroom from the living room.

Living Room

The living room was also a relatively ‘easy’ update. The furniture and decor gave it the biggest wow factor.

It was a lot of work to somewhat ‘stage’ the apartment for photos. I know the importance of getting as much natural light as possible but I picked a day that was total gloom. After having brought everything over and setting it all up I realized I was not going to be doing this again when the sun was shining. Which happened to be the rest of the week. I should have checked the wheather network! Instead, I had to use indoor lighting and in some instances it really changed the colour of the walls. The pictures above is a prime example of how the same paint can look totally different in two photos. The walls are colour matched to Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore and the dark wall is the same Kendall Charcoal as in the bathroom.

Front Entrance (Hoekje)

Here I got to go crazy ripping out old tile that had cracked because it was laid directly on the plywood. Fortunately for me because it was obviuosly the cheapest tile.

A small and empty room is given some functionality by adding a bench and some new coat hooks.

I am extremly fortunate to have been gifted a great camera last year for Christmas and I love being able to use it for capturing moments in my families life as well as for taking many of the blog photos. I only have a 50mm lens though so sometimes it is hard to capture the full room. I do like creating vingettes though and the 50mm is good at taking those.


The kitchen was a huge project. I was excited to get this part of the renovation rolling so the first Ikea kitchen sale that came I was down there buying the cabinets we needed. Which happened to be before the tenants had moved out. Months before we had begun I had already been planning the layout and design with the help of Ikea’s kitchen planner and pinterest.

I don’t mind putting Ikea furniture together. I love how quick it goes from being a bunch of cardboard boxes to beautiful cabinets. It did not really cross our minds to salvage the kitchen cabinets that were there. They were poorly made and the drawers hardly opened and closed. In the past we have priced out other kitchens but Ikea’s price comes in significanlty under their competitors and I have seen several Ikea kitchen’s first hand and the people who have them have been very happy with the product. We used the AXSTAD Ikea cabinet fronts.

Another tough decision was deciding what counter to purchase. At this point our budget was very limited and we knew that we were also going to be saving once again for our main floor renovation. We had narrowed the choices down to laminate, DIY concrete, or butcher block. I have discovered white concrete counters and I am in love! Time was not on our side and we new very little about the whole concrete counter industry and we had done butcher block before so we went with what was familar. I think they turned out great, but I do still wonder what those white concrete counters would have looked like. Who knows perhaps you will see them one day in my own kitchen post.

We did try floating shelves this time around. In the past we have always used black metal brackets, but this time we tried Big Teddy’s brackets purchased on Amazon. They seem to be holding up great. The end that was touching the wall we did screw to the wall to give it extra stability.

Apartment kitchen transformation.

What’s Next?

The last few things have a way of dragging on around here. I was persistant though (some call it nagging) and it did get finished! My sister moved in January and we finished up the last few things. The floating shelves (we were waiting on the hardware), the kitchen kick plate, and the door to the bathroom (I know, no door would have been awesome for when I was a kid!). We have an aggrement with my sister that she can rent the apartment out as an Airbnb to help reduce her rent. This also gives me the opportunity to test the waters of the Airbnb industry while also being able to maintain a consistent rental income. When my sister is ready to move on we will have a good idea as to how best use our rental space. I would love to hear what other people have found when it comes to using Airbnb and if they generate more income rather than having a contract rentor.

The hammer hasn’t stopped banging away. With another chicken hatch on the way and warm weather around the corner we have begun our main floor renovation! I am already impressed with Derrick’s enthusiasim and the work he has done so far. Now to keep the ball rolling….

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