Wendy Lau: The House That Instagram Built

On this episode of The Better Buy, DIYer Wendy Lau shares how she selects homes for renovation, where to splurge, and how to set up your home for entertaining.

Wendy Lau Better Buy Podcast
Photo: Better Homes & Gardens

The Better Buy, a new podcast from Better Homes & Gardens, explores all things home—from decorating and DIY to renovating and budgeting. Each week, we'll talk with homeowners from around the country about the highs and lows of home ownership, and share stories, advice, and practical tips you can put to work in your own home. We're on a mission to inspire and empower you to create your dream home. New episodes every Wednesday!

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On This Episode

Host Mélanie Berliet talks with Wendy Lau as she shares how she selects homes for renovation projects, where she decides to splurge versus save, her love of thrifting, and how she threw her plans out the window and went back to the drawing board when faced with unexpected costs when renovating her current home.

Meet Wendy Lau

Wendy Lau is a content creator based in Toronto, Canada where she lives with her husband, Kwan. She's the creative mind behind @kwendyhome. There she showcases DIY decorating projects, home renovation ideas, and a love of house plants. An avid entertainer, Wendy also shares recipes and ideas for hosting at home. In addition to running her site, Wendy has worked as a flight attendant.

Advice from the Episode

Searching for your forever home can be stressful. Wendy shares some helpful advice for finding the right home in the right location.

Don't Be Afraid of a Fixer-Upper

Wendy Lau

Fixer-uppers were always more affordable in the neighborhoods that we were trying to move into. So the three things we always look for is lighting, location, and layout. And of course, buying the cheapest home on the nicest block that we could afford has always been our mantra.

—Wendy Lau
  • When buying a home, zero in on the neighborhood you'd like to be in. Then look for fixer-uppers that are often available at a lower price point.

Something to Think About When House Hunting

Wendy Lau

I think especially during the house hunting process, there has to be that initial excitement. That excitement comes from the spark of inspiration when you walk into a space and you can visualize just one thing that you're really drawn to. So for this home when we walked in, I was very excited because in the back of the house there was a pitch roof and I could envision a kitchen there. And I clung onto that. From there, I really kind of worked around everything else.

—Wendy Lau
  • If you're not excited when you first see a home, chances are it's not the right house for you.
  • Wendy encourages anyone looking for a home to think beyond the current layout and envision how you would use the space.

Know Your Deal Breakers When Buying a Home

Wendy Lau

Definitely location. We had to be in a radius of about 10-15 minutes from our family and friends. That was number one deal breaker. Number two was lighting, because you can't control the sun. You can spend as much money as you want opening up windows, but if you're facing north … but you're really desiring that Southern light there's only so much you can do. So, lighting was a big one. And three, the layout. You can take out everything in the interior, but there are just some structural things that cannot be moved or will cost a lot of money to move. We learned that the hard way before.

—Wendy Lau
  • For Wendy, location is the most important thing to consider when buying a home.
  • When it comes to tackling a fixer-upper, there are certain structural things that can't be changed—keep that in mind when planning a renovation.

What to Keep in Mind if You Like to Entertain

Wendy Lau

I knew that going in when I was designing or even house-hunting, because I didn't want to wipe up after people. I don't want to be sliding coasters everywhere when you're entertaining. You wanna be a gracious host. You want people to feel comfortable and at home. For them to do that, you need to feel comfortable with living as if this was their home. So material. You're looking at counters, surface areas—and you're looking at flooring. If you have wood floors, you want a higher grade density floor, because you don't want it to nick. So that's something I keep in mind.

—Wendy Lau
  • Choose the right finishes when tackling a renovation. If you like to entertain, look for durable materials that aren't easily damaged.

Links and Resources

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