Renovation Motivation

We’re friends, right? So we can chat openly about the big issues. Just because I talk about decorating here doesn’t mean I endorse that you blindly follow or buy into every home decor trend that comes along (the 80’s reboot is just too much for me). Even some of the trends I blog about I don’t always love in real life or think they’re practical for my house or my family. I feel the same way about renovating. My husband and I have renovated three houses but this by no means makes me an expert. Sometimes I think it makes me a fool. HGTV, renovation blogs and Home Depot commercials make renovating look like a breeze. It is, in fact, not a breeze, but rather a Category 5 hurricane ripping through your house. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think people shouldn’t renovate, but  they should know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.

Before you embark on this journey I have some things for you to think about. First off, read this article. Do you really need to renovate?

If you still feel the need to change up your space, take a deep breath and meditate on the fact that just like losing weight won’t make you happier, and buying a new outfit won’t raise your self esteem, a home renovation won’t make you feel fulfilled or cure your discontentment.

When you are ready to proceed, here are some more things to consider:


  • Make a list of everything you want to change. EVERYTHING. From big ticket items like new kitchen cabinets to tile to furnishings right down to light switch covers. The small things that can be easily overlooked can add a lot to your bottom line so make sure you include everything. There is nothing worse than getting close to completing a major renovation and realizing there isn’t enough money in the budget for the finishing details.
  • If you are financing your renovation consider how long it will take to pay back. Now think about the renovation itself. Will the styles you’ve chosen be out dated or need updating before the original amount has been paid back?
  • This article is a good place to start when planning a renovation budget. It also has a sample spreadsheet.

  • By creating a budget with a healthy contingency, you can decide if there are some jobs you can tackle yourself. Those YouTube videos do make plumbing your own sink look easy but call in a pro when the unexpected arises. Notice I didn’t say “if” the unexpected arises. The first rule of renovating is that something will go wrong. This is true of even the professionals. The only difference is that a professional has the skill and knowledge to handle the unexpected. More than once we’ve opened up a wall on what we thought was a simple job only to find mould, mice and ancient, not-up-to-code wiring. The money you save by doing the drywall yourself can to be put towards an exterminator or electrician to save the day.


  • Be realistic about how long the work will take. Even if you’re not doing any of the work yourself, most jobs will take longer than anticipated and may require several follow up visits by your contractor or tradesperson to fully complete the job.
  • Be willing to wait. Don’t hire the first person who answers the phone. A good contractor will likely have a waiting list and home renovations are not something you want rushed. This website has great tips on how to hire a contractor and what questions to ask.
  • Once you’ve decided it’s time for a new bathroom it’s hard not to charge in there with a sledgehammer and start the demo yourself. Control yourself! Salvage as much as you can – this will save you money. You can even make money from selling older retro or antique fixtures.
  • If you are doing the work yourself you may experience renovation fatigue. This is when your reno has gone on for so long that you almost lose interest in finishing the job and are tempted to stop when most of the work is complete. This phenomenon is responsible for all those trimless rooms, walls with only one coat of paint (or worse, only the primer!), and kitchen cabinets with no knobs. Plan time to finish all these little jobs. It’s okay to take a break, just make sure to finish!


  • There is an overwhelming amount of design inspiration to look at. You and your partner may not agree on what you think the finished space should look like. Start by looking at decor magazines, Pinterest and even Instagram. Compile your ideas and look for commonalities. Do you both like white walls? Does the same colour blue keep popping up? Once you’ve established a few similarities use these as the room’s building blocks.
  • Your contractor, electrician, plumber or any other tradesperson that works on your place is not a referee. If you ask their opinion on something other than the specific task they have been hired to do, prepare to be disappointed. Your plumber may side with your partner on which shade of green to paint. Your contractor may suggest a terrible looking faucet for your perfect new sink. Do not hold this against them. You and your partner have to live in the finished space, not your plumber. Also remember just because your contractor does an amazing job installing your floor, doesn’t mean he or she has a sense of colour, space or design. This is what a designer is for.
  • Renovations can be tough emotionally. There are so many decisions, money is flying out of your bank account, and depending on the size of the renovation, your whole house may be turned upside down. It’s reported that 12% of couples consider divorce during the reno process. Remember why you are renovating. You are creating a better home for your family. Take a step back and appreciate that you are even in a position to renovate your space. Most of the world will never have the luxury of renovating or redecorating – this is a privilege.
  • There are endless options for paint, flooring and furniture. Don’t get overwhelmed! Remember that no one has seen all the options you passed on and no one will be judging you for what you didn’t choose! Also remember to let inspiration be inspirational and not a measuring stick of success. Your Joanna Gaines-inspired mudroom may not look like the design maven herself created it, but that’s okay! I feel like I’ve watched enough Fixer Upper to say that Joanna wouldn’t want her spaces to make you feel insecure, but rather encouraged by her modern take on rustic country.

Renovations are like a really great movie. There’s conflict, suspense, comedy, hopefully not murder, and in the end everything turns out the way you hoped it would.

To prove I’ve earned by renovation stripes, the pictures in this post are all of our current house. The ones above are befores of our kitchen and bathroom. The two below are of our current, in progress (or rather lack of progress) basement bathroom.

We have a full bath on the top floor of the house and a powder room on the main floor so we don’t feel rushed to complete this one. We had to gut it when we moved in because it was full of mould and sponge painted walls. I’ll let you decide which you think is worse.

Happy renovating!




One thought on “Renovation Motivation

  1. Losing weight definitely makes people happier and it can be a lifesaver.

    Likewise, remodelling a home can also make people happier because you live at your home and looking at walls that need painting or tile that needs replacing will definitely make you feel more comfortable.

    It’s fine to list motivators to remodel, but the primary reason people do it is because their home needs a facelift. Living in a home that is run down or has minor damage, such as a cracked bathroom sink or warped countertops can lower your self-esteem in a heartbeat and may also bring anxiety if you have visitors.

    Another big plus to keeping your home in tip-top condition is being prepared for the future. Like can throw a curve-ball, where you might decide to sell your home – for example, you accept a promotion which requires you to re-locate, you inherit property and decide it’s a set up to move, you friend offers you a discount on her condo and you’re ready to downsize from a house to an apartment where you don’t have to worry about maintenance – whatever the reason, it’s a real bummer to realize that your house needs some work before you can list it for a good price.

    I do workworking in my spare time and remodelling is a big part of it. I start with making a design, looking up the parts (wood moulding, crown moulding, tile, doorways, etc.) When I’m satisfied that the plan covers the things that need a facelift, then I chose THE MOST DIFFICULT part of the plan to do first. That way, it lifts a burden from my shoulders and looking at the “to do list” doesn’t cause me stress.

    It’s a mistake to price out all the parts for projects further down the list. What I do when I’m bored with Netflix is google for discount tile, achitectural salvage, and builder’s who are selling off excess materials from a construction job. I found gorgeous kitchen tile for 4 buck a square meter (yard), a light fixture for my hallway (brand new – it was a house and the buyers didn’t want it), etc.

    Sometimes, I feel burn-out halfway through a big project. Then, I take a couple days off and devote my time to stuff that’s been neglected (laundry, making home-made food for dinner, spending time with my pets).

    Finally, I admire my work. Crown moulding is lot of work to install if you hand-cope the inside joints. Preparing wall surfaces for wallpaper requires making sure the surface is even (level and plumb from floor to ceiling), putting in new floor covering means the underlayment has to be level and in good condition, etc. To me, there’s nothing better than admiring a finish project because all that work you did behind the scenes is evident in how beautiful the final result is. Your friends will never know the days you spent sanding, sawing, plastering, etc. All they see is the final result. But you know that result will last for years to come because you did it right.

    I view remodelling like being a diet. It’s work and it’s not always fun. But when you reach your weight-loss or fitness goal, you look and feel better inside and out. Same with that new floor covering you installed 😉

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