This Is Our Story


"For as long as I can remember I was inspired by great design, and so was my family. My mom was an interior decorator for Eaton’s in the ’70s, and my grandfather was a carpenter."

Inspired by family design

As a family we were always decorating rooms, building things, and fixing them too. It was a regular thing for us to move furniture around, decorate rooms, and also build stuff. It was always a lot of fun and rewarding. For as long as we can remember we were always inspired by great design, and so was the family. Mark's mother was an interior decorator for Eaton's in the 1970's, and his grandfather was a carpenter who started building home's during WWII. Chris' grandfather was also a carpenter and helped build the family home during the 1950's.

It all started here

When Mark was 17 years he worked on his first construction site. His best friend Chris Challis asked if he wanted to help cut and install driveway pavers. He explained it paid $10/hr. and there was at least a week of work. Mark said yes! The house was on Mt. Pleasant just south of Lawrence in Toronto, and it had a long driveway. It wasn’t a straight forward installation either. There were circular patterns in a number of spots and hundreds of pieces of stone had to be cut with a wet saw and placed in. Mark remembers it was hard work, but he enjoyed the sense of accomplishment after each day of work. If you drive by that home today into Toronto on the way into the City, you can still see the pavers in that driveway.

Our beginnings with woodworking

During Mark's early 20’s he came across a bunch of beautiful 1” thick pine shelves at a liquidation sale. He bought almost 100 pieces along with a table saw and some basic tools and began making furniture pieces - bookshelves, cabinets, entertainment units, and other stuff. He decided to start his own little part-time business and called it Mark’s Custom Woodworx. His cousin Stephen Staroste was a graphic designer and even did a logo for the business. During this time Mark learned the basics of carpentry, and how to be attentive to details, which is required with building furniture.

Ashton Renovations was born

After a few years of doing cabinetry, Mark evolved into more challenging home improvement projects. He did everything he could do to learn more about the home renovation business. He helped and learned with many others building decks and fences, waterproofing, masonry, painting, and handyman work. Mark even renovated the family attic from start to finish that involved converting it to a living space with skylights and all. This is where the journey of contractor began, and it involved a lot of learning and reading!

During this time Mark encountered a lot of great tradespeople - and some not so great ones too. Unfortunately, he found that many contractors were unprofessional, not detailed oriented, and disorganized. Fortunately, he had a mentor that taught him many things a great contractor should do, and those habits are still with the company today. His name was Kurt Rutloff. He was a family friend going all the way back to the 1950's when they came over from Germany after World War II. As a master carpenter his entire life, he knew construction and also understood how to run a business. His core belief: the customer was always number #1. From this point forward the business would be committed to 3 core values:

Our committment

  • Commitment to Professionalism
  • Excellence in the Details
  • Meaningful Work, and Positive Relationships (with customers, staff, trades, and suppliers)

Kitchen & Bath Specialists

With this in mind, our business was inspired. We wanted to build a successful renovation company. So we did everything we could to make that happen. Mark even decided to go back to York University and get a degree in business administration. He would then apply everything he learned from that into running a successful construction business.

For the next 15 years, Mark helped build the business while working as a tradesperson along with many others including his younger brother Chris Ashton. It involved long days on sites and many late nights with weekend work. The main focus was interior renovations, but we also helped our clients with many exterior projects and repairs that needed to be done. As time went on we became specialists in kitchen and bathroom renovations, with a large portion of our business involving whole house projects. Many of our customers purchased existing homes and condos, and we would go in and make them new again!

As the business grew Mark became primarily involved in the operation of the business starting in 2010, and in 2015 became a certified kitchen and bathroom designer, and 2019 CLIPP (Certified Living in Place Professional).

NKBA Award Winning Design Firm

Over the years we have been blessed with a lot of exciting projects, great clients, and industry recognition. In 2011 we became members of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and winners of Best Small Bath 2016, 2019, and 2020. We have been recognized Best of Houzz Service 7 years in a row 2014-2020. We have over 100 positive reviews from our happy customers on HomeStars, Houzz, Google, and Trusted Pros.




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