Gardening guru, author and HGTV Canada’s Home to Win host Carson Arthur has fond memories of his first home, a two-storey, 1960s fixer-upper with a lovely front porch in Toronto’s eclectic community of Leslieville.

“I loved it because it was a detached home with great neighbours and so much potential,” he said. “I really wanted a fixer-upper, so that I could put my own spin on it.”

He purchased the home in 1996 with his then partner. Previously, both had been renting separate apartments – Arthur’s was a bachelor basement apartment with two tiny windows. At the time, the Toronto market was experiencing a downturn.

“We decided that paying two apartment rental fees made no sense when we could afford a mortgage for half the cost,” he said.

“It was the first house we looked at and within five minutes of walking through the door, we knew it was meant to be ours. The space just felt right.”

The couple put in an offer and the deal was done in three days.

“We were actually the only offer,” he said. “That just doesn’t happen anymore.”

“It was the first house we looked at and within five minutes of walking through the door, we knew it was meant to be ours. The space just felt right.”

The home had good bones, while the roof, electrical and plumbing were also in good shape. Over the course of eight months, the couple renovated the entire home, room by room.

“We lived through the drywall dust, paint and insulation – fun times,” said Arthur. “We even did the kitchen in the summer so that we could barbecue through the process and not be without a food source.”

The gardens and yard had been completely neglected over the years, so Arthur also worked his magic to rejuvenate and redesign the outdoor space.

Looking back, Arthur says the experience taught him to make decisions that are forward thinking. “Your needs today may not be what they are in the future. Be careful about making changes to your home that limit you,” he said. “I knocked down a wall to make a really big master bedroom and turned a four-bedroom house into a two-bedroom house. Big mistake.”

Arthur now lives in his tenth – and, hopefully, forever – home in Prince Edward County, Ont.

“I plan to stay here permanently,” he said. “Buying, renovating and selling was the best way for me to supplement my media income and let me do what I love: helping people create beautiful outdoor spaces.”