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.